Government Formally Announces Kelly Tolhurst MP’s Debt Breathing Space Scheme

HM Treasury has formally announced a scheme, first introduced by Kelly Tolhurst MP, to help people who are struggling with problem debt.

The Debt Breathing Space scheme was first put forward as a Private Member’s Bill in 2016 by the Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood, Kelly Tolhurst MP, and was endorsed by the Government in the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto. The scheme will place a duty on lenders and creditors to provide periods of financial respite for people in debt.

Ms Tolhurst’s scheme was originally intended to be used by families with children and young people, however, the Government has extended the protections to all those who find themselves in problem debt – no matter if the debt belongs to private lenders or central and local government. This protection will help those in problem debt move towards a sustainable debt solution.

The welfare of children and families has always been a paramount issue for Ms Tolhurst, and that is why she brought forward the initiative which had wide support across Parliament and society. Having worked with vulnerable families across Medway and Kent, and particularly their children, Ms Tolhurst had long been concerned with the impact of problem debt on families and young people and has sought to deliver meaningful support by law.

The scheme has been designed to provide people in problem debt with a 60-day respite period from soaring interest rates, charges and enforcement action. The period of 60 days will then be used to restructure the debt into a more manageable plan and help people get back on their feet.

The Government intends to implement the breathing space scheme in early 2021.

Following the announcement, Kelly said:

“It has been one of my greatest achievements as an MP to have brought forward this scheme, and I am thrilled that the Government has honoured this manifesto commitment and are delivering on a scheme which will significantly help people in problem debt.”

“Particularly in families, problem debt can have terrible implications on young people growing up, such as family breakdown or mental health issues, and this scheme will go some way to preventing this kind of trauma.”

“I am thankful for the widespread support I have received from the Government, colleagues and charities, such as the Children’s Society and Step Change Debt Charity, in putting together a strong campaign, and I look forward to ensuring the Breathing Space Scheme works in practice.”


To see the full Government announcement, please follow this link here: