This article was originally published on 10 March and updated on 24 May 2017.
In February, over 1,000 of our clients emailed their MPs asking them to support a Breathing Space scheme for people in debt in England, Wales and Northern Ireland*. If you helped, thank you.
A scheme like this would mean that when people in debt get advice they’d have fees, charges and interest on their debts frozen, along with a break from enforcement action. It would allow them time to sort out their finances without seeing their debts spiralling upwards.
MPs have acted on Breathing Space
These emails are already making a difference, and Breathing Space remains on the political agenda.
MPs in 479 constituencies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were contacted – over three-quarters of all MPs in the UK.
Interestingly, 73 people sent us their MP’s response and, of these:
- 31 MPs told our supporters that they’d raised the issue with the Treasury
- 28 MPs issued a local press release
- 30 MPs supported Breathing Space on social media or via their website
Altogether 50 MPs publicly supported our Breathing Space campaign as a result. This is over and above those who had previously worked with us to support the campaign, such as Kelly Tolhurst, who’s introduced a Private Members’ Bill with legislation for a Breathing Space scheme, the MPs on the Work & Pensions Committee, who recommended a Scheme in 2015, and other MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Debt and Personal Finance.
Three MPs – Royston Smith, Margaret Greenwood and Johnny Mercer – asked questions in Parliament about Breathing Space, and as a result the Treasury confirmed that they’re still looking at introducing a Scheme. Additionally Kelly Tolhurst hosted a ‘roundtable‘ event with the banking, credit and debt advice sectors to discuss how a Breathing Space scheme could work in practice.
MoneySavingExpert.com backs our campaign
We were made Money Saving Expert.com‘s campaign of the week a few weeks ago, and as a result 157 MSE readers emailed their MPs, in 104 constituencies. We also had support from our colleagues at the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute and the Children’s Society.
It means that in total, supporters sent a fantastic 1,239 e-mails to MPs, covering 508 constituencies. This is a great result and thank you to everyone who helped by taking action.
Join our Debt Action Panel
If you want to get more involved in supporting our policy and campaigning work you can join our new Debt Action Panel. We’ll be building on all the support we’ve generated in the last few weeks. Hopefully we’ll see more announcements about a Breathing Space Scheme by Government or in party manifestos as the June general election approaches.
Ask your MP to support Breathing Space
If you’ve not already been in touch you there’s still time to email your MP about Breathing Space, asking them to take action. We want as many people as possible to contact their MP, so we can put more pressure on the Government to do something to help the many thousands of people across the country that need support when they’re facing huge difficulties with their finances.
*Scotland already has a Debt Arrangement Scheme that provides similar legal protection