Breathing Space – the new government debt respite scheme

From Tuesday 4 May 2021, the new Breathing Space and Mental Health Crisis Debt Respite Schemes will come into effect in England and Wales. Breathing Space is a new scheme that gives people temporary protection from most types of debt collection while they take action to get on top of their debts. If you’re offering credit for customers, you could potentially be contacted by debt agencies, so it’s worthwhile familiarising yourself with the scheme.

As a potential creditor, we’ve built processes to handle these requests and we’ve registered with the service to receive notifications. As part of the process the debt adviser should establish who the creditors are and notify them, but we recognise there’s a slim chance that you may receive some notifications where Aviva is the creditor. If this does happen, please do not pass these requests to us. Instead, please follow the guidance set out in the notification regarding returns. This will help to ensure that both of us are in compliance with data protection law.

Below are some key points about the standard Breathing Space scheme. There are additional guidelines for the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space scheme. You can find more information about both schemes here.

  • Customers can apply through a debt adviser for sixty days’ ‘Breathing Space’.
  • Customers must continue to engage with their debt adviser and not take out any new borrowing over £500 in this time.
  • Customers will also have to continue to make certain types of payments, including ongoing housing costs, utility bills, and taxes.
  • Interest and fees will be paused on debts included in ‘Breathing Space’ while these conditions are met.
  • Customers can only apply for Breathing Space once in a 12-month period.