As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Economic Secretary John Glen MP visited Rethink in Solihull, to highlight support on offer for people suffering with problem debt.

One year on from the launch of Breathing Space, nearly 60,000 people have benefited from the government’s scheme.

This has provided individuals in problem debt with legal protection from creditor action while they seek debt advice – including through measures such as freezing interest payments and creditor enforcement for up to 60 days.

More than 900 of those taking this support entered “Mental Health Crisis Breathing Spaces”, which extends the protections while they receive mental health crisis treatment.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said: “Mental health is a challenge for us all – but these concerns can be exacerbated for people who are experiencing a mental health crisis and are in problem debt.

“That’s why I launched the Breathing Space scheme one year ago and will shortly be consulting on proposals for a Statutory Debt Repayment Plan – to give people the confidence, support and clarity they need to tackle problem debts.

“The work Rethink Mental Illness are doing to support their clients is transforming lives. So I would urge anyone struggling with their mental health and in need of financial advice, to reach out to their nearest debt advice provider for support.”

Mr Glen welcomed the work Rethink are doing to support their clients and raise awareness of the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space. He urged others in problem debt to seek advice from a mental health professional, debt advice provider, or using the tools offered by the Money and Pensions Service.
The minister also thanked staff at Rethink for providing dedicated support to members of the local community suffering with mental health issues and problem debt. He discussed ways the government is tackling problem debt, including investing more than £90 million to support debt advice charities, providing £3.8 million to pilot the No-interest Loans Scheme, and accelerating the release of dormant assets funding. The latter of which has made £96 million immediately available to Fair4All Finance to support their work on financial inclusion.

The government will shortly be consulting on proposals for a Statutory Debt Repayment Plan, which will enable someone in problem debt to repay most debts over a manageable timetable. Individuals entering a repayment plan under the scheme will benefit from a range of protections. This includes being shielded from enforcement action by creditors, creditors being unable to contact a debtor, and halting fees, additional interest on debts, and other charges, while any outstanding arrears are managed.