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Breathing Space - Debt Respite Schemes

Breathing Space - Debt Respite Schemes

As of 4 May 2021 a national government initiative entitled Breathing Space has been implemented in England and Wales. This has been developed and introduced by the Treasury and is formed of two different schemes -

The first scheme is a debt respite scheme providing protections for people who are resident in England and Wales who are in problem debt, who access debt advice and meet eligible criteria and conditions. People should access this scheme via their debt advisors. A list of free debt advice providers is available at

The second is a scheme called Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space (MHCBS). As of 4 May2021, this gives Approved Mental Health Professional's (AMHP) a statutory responsibility to certify that an individual meets the eligibility criteria for this scheme. Only an AMHP can do this by law. This has been developed for people receiving mental health crisis treatment so that they do not have to access debt advice first.

Eligibility for a MHCBS is defined as being in receipt of mental health crisis treatment, ie if they are:

  • Detained for assessment or treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • Removed to a Place of Safety under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • Receiving crisis, emergency or acute care or treatment in any setting from a specialist mental health service for a mental disorder of a serious nature.

To summarise, requests to access the MHCBS can be made by any professional, service user, carer or other advocate or representative. Referral forms are available online on Derbyshire County Council's website and must be fully completed before submitting.

Once received these referrals will be sent to Derbyshire AMHP Service's business services on the secure email address. The individual's full name and date of birth must be included in the subject title, and confirmation must be received stating that consent has been granted voluntarily by the individual, or that appropriate consent has been given on their behalf. Alternatively that a best interest decision has been made for their information to be shared.

Following receipt of all the information, including the name of a 'nominated point of contact' (NPOC), ie the person's care co-ordinator, registered mental health nurse or an AMHP, an AMHP will check all the information and, when satisfied that all requirements have been fulfilled, will complete, sign and date the MHCBS evidence form before returning it to the referrer. A referral protocol has been written and circulated to potential referrers. You can see the protocol here.

Referrals will be processed within three working days and, to ensure full compliance with this new statutory responsibility, referrals will be closely monitored, together with actions taken.

Alongside the above it is important to ensure existing preventative practices regarding debt issues continue, involving DWP and general benefits including housing/council tax benefits. This includes challenging the legitimacy of the debts through the mandatory reconsideration and appeals process, requesting backdated housing benefit payments and also discretionary housing payments (DHPs). It is also important to provide as much supportive information as possible on behalf of the person to ultimately eliminate the debt situation otherwise there may well be further mental health crises at the end of the respite period if the situation has not been resolved.

If you require more information please follow this link to the government website.

Posted: Fri, 07 May 2021 09:28 by Admin

Tags: News