Breathing Space Scheme March 2017

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the issue of debt, and in particular the idea of a "Breathing Space" scheme.

As you will be aware, a "Breathing Space" scheme would give people a period without interest, charges or debt collection activity while they seek advice and try to improve their financial situation. The idea has been supported by both the debt charity StepChange and The Children's Society.

In 2015 the Government accepted the need to conduct an in-depth review of this by the end of the year. Unfortunately, the review is still ongoing.

I appreciate the very serious problems that can be caused by personal debt. I am concerned that many young people are facing a lifetime of debt and uncertainty whilst the Government are not going far enough to protect families from falling into unmanageable debt.

This is a significant issue in my constituency of Nottingham North which has the fourth highest income deprivation in the country – leading to one in four children living in poverty – and unemployment almost three times the national average. My constituents could certainly do with room to breathe.

Total household debt rose to £1,834 billion at the end of September 2016. While prices are rising earnings are still below where they were before the financial crash and people are struggling to make ends meet.

I hope that the Government will listen to the very serious concerns raised by organisations and individuals regarding household debt and I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.