Citizens Advice Column - February/March 23
Struggling With Debts? There Is A Way Forward
Approaching the depths of winter, February and March are typically when debt issues come home to roost. For many households accumulated household debts may seem out of control or heading that way. Below are two important options to consider if you fall into this category.
Debt Breathing Space
What is the Debt Breathing Space?
The ‘debt breathing space’ is a relatively new scheme that gives people with lots of debts temporary protection (a ‘pause’) from most types of debt collection while they take action to get on top of their debts.
You can apply through a debt adviser for a sixty days’ pause in debt collection, but you must continue to engage with your debt adviser and not take out any new borrowing over £500 in this time. You’ll also have to continue to make certain types of payments, including ongoing housing costs, utility bills, and taxes.
Interest and fees will be paused on debts included in Breathing Space while these conditions are met. If you’re being treated for a mental health crisis, a separate scheme applies.
Not all debts can be included in this protection, and you can only apply for Breathing Space once in a 12-month period, so you need to find out whether this is a good option for you.
For more information call 0800 011 3797 or go to www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en and put ‘debt breathing space’ in the search box.
Debt Relief Order (DRO)
What is a Debt Relief Order?
A debt relief order (DRO) is one way to deal with multiple debts if you:
- owe £30,000 or less
- don’t own your own home
- don’t have other assets or things of value
- don’t have much spare income
You don't have to make payments towards most types of debt included in your DRO (‘qualifying debts’) and your creditors can’t force you to pay off the debts. A DRO usually lasts a year unless your situation improves. When the DRO ends, most of your debts will be written off.
Not all debts are covered by a DRO, and you’ll have to follow certain rules, called 'restrictions', during the DRO period; so it is important to find out whether a DRO is the right option for you.
You’ll need to speak to a special DRO adviser who will help you fill in an application to the official receiver. The adviser can’t charge you for their time but there's a £90 fee to make a DRO application (help is available from some charities to cover this fee).
For more information call 0800 011 3797 or go to www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en and put ‘debt relief order’ in the search box.
No matter what your debt liabilities are there is always an option out there for you, to enable you to take back control of your finances.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice, or similar accredited community-based advice service, for expert debt and money advice. Call the Citizens Advice national Advice Line on 0800 144 8848, or go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/help-with-debt/, for more information on the two options above.
For invaluable independent money management advice call 0800 011 3797 or go to www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en.
Don’t let debt get you down. There is always a way forward.
Our thanks to Coventry Citizens Advice (CCA) for submitting this article to us. For more information, contact your local CA offices or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.