Breathing Space’s debt-relief plan “may interfere with Halton Council’s priorities,” according to the report.

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Breathing Space’s debt-relief plan “may interfere with Halton Council’s priorities,” according to the report.

New measures to protect people in debt have been warned that they could have ramifications for Halton Council’s goals in the future.

The Debt Respite Scheme, often known as breathing space, is a government program that began on May 4. The measure intends to offer people who are dealing with debt additional time to seek help from a trained debt counsellor.

It protects people with debt problems from most enforcement and recovery actions for up to 60 days, bans creditors from contacting them, and freezes interest and charges on what they owe.

An improved version of the program is targeted specifically at those who are undergoing treatment for a mental health crisis. It prevents them from acting for as long as they are undergoing treatment, plus an additional 30 days.

Only a debt advice provider who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority can apply for breathing space (FCA).

The borough’s finance officer Ed Dawson advised members at a meeting of the council’s Corporate Policy and Performance Board yesterday evening (Tuesday) that there had been 26 applications for breathing space by people who owed the council money totaling £48k as of the end of May. Approximately 80% of that was due to unpaid council tax.

“It’s too early to determine whether this process will have any meaningful effect on our debt collection; we’ll just have to see how it goes,” he said.

“Is there any kind of promotion to people who may be able to take advantage of it [the plan], particularly those in terms of their mental health issue who may be less able at times to realize it’s there or go to the correct place?” asked board member Cllr Noel Hutchinson.

Mr Dawson responded, “It’s more government-led in terms of signposting, but groups like Citizens Advice and agencies like StepChange are acutely aware, so they’ll push it to clients who are going into that circumstance.”

“When it comes to those who are experiencing a mental health crisis, our. The summary comes to a close.

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