The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020, commonly known as Breathing Space, commenced on 04 May 2021. It is created with the aim of giving people in debt the time and space to stabilise their financial position, obtain advice and develop a solution. There are two types of breathing space available:

  1. Standard breathing space

This scheme is available to anyone with qualifying debt. They will be given legal protection from creditor action and certain interest and charges on their debt will be frozen. Standard breathing space lasts for 60 days.

  1. Mental health crisis breathing space

This scheme is only available to someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment. This scheme gives stronger protections and lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days. There is no limit to how many times a debtor enters into this scheme.

Debt that will not qualify include secured debts (like mortgages, however, mortgage arrears will apply), debts incurred from fraud, liabilities to pay fines imposed by a court, obligations for from a confiscation order, child maintenance or obligations under an order made in family court proceedings, a crisis or budgeting loan from the social fund, student loans, damages they need to pay for death or personal injury caused to someone else, advance payments of Universal Credit, council tax liabilities have not yet fallen due.

Creditors will be informed by electronic service that their debt is in breathing space. Upon receiving this, the creditor must stop:

  • the debtor having to pay certain interest, fees, penalties or charges for that debt during the breathing space
  • any enforcement or recovery action to recover that debt, by you or any agent you’ve appointed
  • contacting the debtor to request repayment of that debt, unless you’ve got permission from the court

Please note that interest can still be charged on the principal in secured debt, but not on the arrears.


For further information on this topic or on any other legal area, please contact John Szepietowski or Kay Stewart at Audley Chaucer Solicitors on 01372 303444 or email or visit our Linkedin page.


Kieran Pezzack


This information was correct as at July 2022

Author John Szepietowski

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