Breathing space

Breathing space is a debt respite scheme.

It gives people facing financial difficulties space to receive debt advice, or mental health crisis treatment, without pressure from creditors or mounting debts.

It gives protection to people who live in England and Wales and are in problem debt.

Standard breathing space

The standard breathing space scheme can be accessed by contacting a professional debt adviser.

The scheme is available to anyone in problem debt who can access debt advice.

Find out more about the standard breathing space scheme.

Mental health breathing space

Mental health breathing space is a process to get support for those receiving mental health treatment, so they do not have to access debt advice first.

It can help a person in mental health crisis treatment who may not be able to contact a professional debt adviser.

The mental health crisis breathing space offers stronger protections than a standard breathing space.

Mental health crisis definitions

Guidance stipulates that receiving mental health crisis treatment means that the person:

  • has been detained in hospital for assessment or treatment (including under part 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983)
  • has been removed to a place of safety by a police constable, or
  • is receiving any other crisis, emergency or acute care or treatment in hospital or in the community from a specialist mental health service in relation to a mental disorder of a serious nature. This can include services offered by community mental health services and crisis houses.

Guidance defines specialist mental health service as that provided by a crisis home treatment team, a liaison mental health team, a community mental health team or any other specialist mental health crisis service considered appropriate.

You must be receiving support in time of a crisis and not general support from the team to qualify for a mental health breathing space.