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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Consultation on breathing space scheme for people in problem debt

The government has launched a consultation on a breathing space scheme for people in problem debt. The proposed scheme is accompanied by an additional proposal to introduce an associated statutory debt repayment plan (SDRP). Both the breathing space scheme and SDRP are intended to supplement existing debt management solutions.

Breathing space

The breathing space scheme is intended to provide people with 60 days’ protection from creditors while they seek debt advice, (with a view to entering into an appropriate debt solution). Under the scheme, interest and charges will be prevented from accruing and cannot be retrospectively applied after the breathing space ends. Additionally, people availing of a breathing space should expect to have no contact from their creditors, except for ‘business as usual’ communications, such as statements and promotional materials. It is also proposed that most forms of enforcement action would be paused for the duration of any breathing space.

Option to apply for statutory debt repayment plan

If deemed an appropriate solution, clients who have entered a breathing space may also be considered for an statutory debt repayment plan (SDRP), whereby there will be a statutory agreement made to repay debts within a manageable timeframe (and a maximum term of ten years). As with the breathing space, no new interest or charges can be applied during this time, or retrospectively applied after the SDRP comes to an end. Creditors will be prevented from contacting clients, except for business as usual communications, and it is proposed that there will be no new legal or enforcement action commenced.

You can respond to the consultation until 29 January 2019.

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Policy, Affordability

This article was written on 11 January 2019. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.