Posted: 03 March 2017

Time to exhale?

Political momentum is building around the need for a statutory breathing space to support children and their families in debt.

MPs backing our call

Over 30 MPs have now joined our call for an introduction of a legally binding breathing space scheme, showing their support through a press release in their local paper, on Twitter, via Facebook or writing to the Minister directly.  If you don’t know whether your MP has supported take a look at our tracker.

Here is a selection of just a few of our favourites:


Backing the breathing space

Greg Mullholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West meets with our supporter Tony Sutcliffe to show his support for the campaign.

“MPs

Proud to back the campaign

Conservative MP for Meriden, Caroline Spelman, backs our call for a breathing space.

'A massive help to struggling, hard working families'

Rt Hon. Robert Halfon MP, Minister of State in the Department for Education describes the breathing space as a 'great idea' and a 'useful and viable addition' to debt solutions.

'Breathing Space scheme is vital'

Yvonne Fovargue, Labour MP for Makerfield and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on personal debt and finance calls for a breathing space.

'A statutory Breathing Space scheme is vital if we are to prevent thousands of people falling into a downward spiral of increasing debt.'


What would a breathing space scheme mean for families?

For too long there has been a gap in the available debt solutions for families – a gap that means families who find themselves unable to repay their debts for a short period take on more borrowing, face rising fees and charges and are chased by bailiffs and enforcement agents – rather than being supported out of the debt trap.

it doesn’t take much to push these ‘just about managing’ families into a crisis

Many families find themselves falling into debt due to a one off unexpected life event; a relationship breakdown, job loss, severe illness, or an unplanned expense, such as a broken down car or boiler. 

With low-income families having less than £100 of savings it doesn’t take much to push these ‘just about managing’ families into a crisis.

A breathing space is a solution providing a two-phase response to protect these families and their children:

  • It provides a period of up to 12 months to give families the space and time they need to recover financially.  This would put a stop to spiralling debt by putting a hold on interest rates, enforcement action and collections for up to a year.
  • The scheme would then provide a protected debt repayment plan period where families repaying their debts over time would be protected from enforcement action and rising fees and charges.

Together these components would support families and children from the damage that we know is significant for the 2.4 million children living in families facing problem debt.

Three is a magic number

As everything seems to come in threes, the chance to get our breathing space adopted is no exception.  In the coming weeks, there are three opportunities where we are encouraging the Government to bring forward a consultation on the Breathing Space campaign.

  1. Firstly, next week the Chancellor will deliver the spring budget and, although not widely expected to be a budget full of announcements, this flagship parliamentary set-piece presents an opportunity to announce this vital support for households in debt.
  2. Secondly, the much touted social justice strategy is expected shortly.  Inline with the Prime Minister’s ‘shared society’ agenda, a breathing space would support those families who, although just about managing, can quickly find themselves spiralling into a debt trap.
  3. Thirdly, we are pursuing this change through a Private Members Bill, sponsored by Kelly Tolhurst MP.  Although Private Members Bills rarely are adopted into law wholesale, they provide an invaluable opportunity to encourage the Government to act on a particular issue - perhaps by introducing their own piece of legislation or announcing they will adopt the policy proposed in the Bill.

Watch the video from our Policy team explaining why this year's Spring Budget is so important.

With opportunities available, public momentum building and a groundswell of political support, we’re calling on the Government to introduce a breathing space for families and their children.

back the breathing space

By Lucy Dacey - Programme staff
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