Debt help on offer in Wigan through new scheme

A Wigan charity is preparing to support people in debt as they are given “breathing space” from their creditors.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 7:00 am

New legislation comes into force on May 4 which will allow people with qualifying debts to access legal protection which stops their creditors taking action for 60 days.

People can apply for this through a local authority or authorised advisor, such as at Citizens Advice, and interest, additional fees and enforcement will be frozen, giving people time to get on top of their finances.

The scheme recognises that financial problems can impact mental health and well-being, so it offers further protection for people in a mental health crisis who are receiving treatment.

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Elaine Stone

It is called the Debt Respite Scheme, also known as Breathing Space.

The debt advice team at Citizens Advice Wigan Borough has been busy preparing for the new initiative to begin so it can help clients for free to work through their debt options.

They have completed training on all aspects of Breathing Space, as well as discussed any possible issues in regular team meetings and found solutions.

The team will be able to help people address their money issues during the 60-day period, including empowering them to apply for benefits, look at monthly budgets and check eligibility for grants.

They will help people find long-term solutions for dealing with money owed and give them a fresh start with their finances.

Elaine Stone, debt advice team leader, said: “The value of Breathing Space to the people we help will be great. For example, if a person is eligible for the scheme, pausing recovery of the majority of debts will free them from the added stress and worry of their creditors chasing them for a 60-day period. This will give them time to get free, confidential help from one of our team, in a non-judgemental way.

“For people who are currently in mental health crisis, this protection will remain for as long as they are in crisis treatment, enabling them to start getting better without the additional pressures of worrying about dealing with people they owe money to.”

Contact Citizens Advice Wigan Borough on 08082 787 801 or visit www.cawb.org.uk.

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