The Treasury estimates that up to 700,000 people in the first year could be helped by a new “breathing space” scheme which has now begun in England and Wales that will shield people in debt problems and further interest and charges.
People that are receiving debt advice can apply for up to a 60 days break to prevent them falling into a further spiral of debt.
People can get more help if they are receiving treatment for mental health issues and a separate system is in place for those which lasts for the length of that treatment plus another 30 days.
Debt charities have campaigned for years after watching people borrowing more money to pay the interest and charges of existing debt for an introduction of a breathing space scheme.
Should a debt adviser agree a breathing space period is appropriate, under the scheme the extra costs will be paused, and no enforcement action can be taken.
The Government has stressed that this is not a payment holiday, it can only be used once during a 12-month period and regular bills such as mortgages, rent, utility bills and taxes should still be paid.
A similar system is already in operation in Scotland.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen suggests that the scheme will give consumers breathing space from charges, distressing letters and bailiff visits.
The new scheme could give the breathing space required to speak to creditors and make plans to deal with debts and get advice. This is a landmark scheme to improve the help available when people struggle with debt.
The scheme will give more support under the mental health breathing space system and will be more open-ended and can be used more than once a year. An approved mental health professional can certify the individual is receiving treatment and a debt adviser can therefore consider whether they are eligible for the scheme.