What is the Debt Respite Scheme or Breathing Space?

Breathing Space is a government strategy to help people struggling with problem debts. The scheme gives people professional support to help them take control of their finances. Applications have to be made via a dedicated debt advice provider and the scheme is administered by the Insolvency Service.

Standard Breathing Space

Standard Breathing Space allows successful applicants a 60 day period where interest, fees and recovery action associated with qualifying debts will be paused. During these 60 days, you'll get professional debt advice to find a long-term solution to your financial difficulties.

Please note: you must continue to make ongoing payments to any balances not included in Breathing Space.

You will only be able to access a standard breathing space every 12 months.

Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space

This option is available to anyone with a qualifying debt who is receiving mental health crisis treatment. This Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space lasts for the duration of their crisis treatment plus 30 days. During this period interest, fees and recovery action associated with qualifying debts will be paused. You can then apply for standard Breathing Space. 

There is no limit to the number of times someone receiving mental health crisis treatment can enter Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space.

How to apply for Breathing Space

You can only access breathing space by seeking the advice of a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recognised Debt Advice Provider (DAP). They will be able to give you free and confidential debt advice and support. If you are eligible for the scheme, the debt adviser will submit an application to the Insolvency Service on your behalf.

You can access a list of free debt advice providers on the Money Advice Service website.