Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) – Rules coming into force from 4th May 2021

Maria Taylor, Rogers & Norton

4th May is sometimes known as Star Wars Day – May the 4th be with you!


Well 4th May 2021 is a significant date for those who have incurred debts during the last 14 months or so of the Coronavirus pandemic within the UK. Debts have mounted for many and a new scheme is coming into force from 4 May 2021 which will provide some relief for a short period of time for some many millions of debtors.

The aim of the Debt Respite Scheme also to be known as Breathing Space has been introduced to help those who find themselves in debt and it will have the effect of freezing interest payments and suspend any enforcement action for a specified period of time.

There are two types of Breathing Space under the scheme:-

  • Standard Breathing Space
  • Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space

Standard Breathing Space is available for individuals and will allow them a period of 60 days breathing space from any action being taken against them including any contact from the creditor or any enforcement action. During this 60 day period any interest charges are also frozen. The standing breathing space can be accessed just once within a 12 month period of time.

Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space differs slightly in that it is not limited to a specific period of time but lasts for the duration of the individual’s period of treatment plus an additional 30 days. There is no limit on this breathing space and it can be used whenever an individual is in a mental health crisis subject of course to specific criteria.

When/how does this apply?

Can only be initiated by:

  • A Local Authority
  • A debt advice provider who is authorised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) to provide debt counselling

The creditor will be advised via an electronic service and may also receive notification in the post. The time period begins to run from the day after it appears on the register so if notification is given via the postal service then the period of breathing space may already have begun.

The creditor will be notified as well when the breathing space ends.

Action by the Creditor on receipt of Breathing Space Notice?

On receipt the creditor or for that matter claimant has a responsibility to inform any enforcement agency that they have been served with breathing space notice. This then has the effect of suspending any enforcement action against the debtor for the permitted specified period of time. Enforcement agents during this time are stopped from having contact with the debtor, unable to give notice of enforcement, unable to obtain a Warrant or Writ, unable to take control of goods, unable to visit the debtor’s home or business, stopped from serving notice of property possession and unable to take possession of property.

Types of Debts covered by the Scheme:

  • Credit cards
  • Store cards
  • Personal loans
  • Pay day loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Utility bill arrears
  • Mortgage or rent arrears
  • Government debt such as council tax
  • Debt owed by an individual to a business or another individual

Debts not covered:

  • Any business or commercial debt if the debt relates to the business and not a debtor personally

Excluded Debts:-

  • secured debts (Mortgages, hire purchase or conditional sale agreements), only those arrears included at the date of an application for breathing space. Any new secured debts after the breathing space starts are not protected. If a secured debts remains as an ongoing liability and the debtor misses a payment then this can mean the debt adviser stops the breathing space
  • debts incurred from fraud or fraudulent breach of trust
  • liabilities to pay fines imposed by a Court for an offence
  • child maintenance or obligations made in family court proceedings
  • student loans
  • advance payments of Universal Credit
  • council tax liabilities not yet fallen due

We are happy to offer further advice and guidance relating to the scheme however, should you require further detailed information or details then please see the Debt Respite Scheme at:-

All aspects of Debt Recovery work undertaken by the team at Rogers and Norton including:-

  • Drafting and preparation of letters before action
  • Issuing Court proceedings (including County Court/High Court)
  • Obtaining of Judgments
  • Enforcement action (including Attachment of Earnings Orders, Charging Orders and Third Party Debt Orders)
  • Insolvency claims
  • Insolvency claims (including service of statutory demands, bankruptcy and winding up petitions)
  • Validation Orders

The sectors we have assisted include Construction Industry, National Finance Companies and those dealing with Hire Purchase Agreements, Landlords, Schools, Accountants and Manufacturing Companies.

For all your debt recovery needs contact the team via telephone (01603 666001) or alternatively email with your initial enquiry.

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