Dudley Council
Dudley Skyline

What is Breathing Space?

The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 – known as ‘Breathing Space’ is legislation which came into force on the 4th May 2021.

The regulations give someone in problem debt the right to legal protections from their creditors.

Problem debts include:

  • Council Tax
  • Housing rent and mortgage arrears
  • General debts, i.e. a paid service the Council provides
  • Business Rates (sole traders only)
  • Housing Benefit overpayments
  • Parking charges
  • personal loans
  • pay day loans
  • overdrafts
  • utility bill arrears

There are two types of breathing space:

  • standard breathing space, and
  • mental health crisis breathing space.
Standard Breathing Space

Available to anyone with problem debt.  It gives them legal protections from creditor action for up to 60 days.  The protections include pausing most enforcement action and contact from creditors and freezing most interest and charges on their debts.

Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space

Only available to someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment and has some stronger protections.  It lasts as long as the person's mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days (no matter how long the crisis treatment lasts).

Who Can Apply For Breathing Space?

Anyone who cannot or is unlikely to be able to repay their debts can apply to a regulated debt advice provider for standard breathing space.

Although all applications must be considered, the debt adviser might decide a breathing space is not appropriate for a debtor.

In addition to the debtor, other people can apply to a debt adviser on behalf of a debtor for a mental health crisis breathing space, such as:

  • The debtor’s carer or their representative
  • Approved mental health professionals, mental health nurses
  • Social workers
  • Independent mental health advocates or mental capacity advocates appointed for the debtor.

How To Apply For Breathing Space

You will need to enter into discussions with a regulated debt advice provider.

The Council does not provide regulated debt advice.  However, the following organisations are able to provide this service.  We would recommend that you contact one of them.

Citizens Advice UK 

The Money Advice Service 

Step Change Debt Charity