People dealing with mental health crises and debt problems will in future be given the opportunity to gain some respite from their creditors.
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has successfully persuaded the government that its policy of giving people with problem debt ‘breathing space’ from their creditors if they seek debt advice should be extended to include anyone getting help from the NHS’ mental health crisis services.
The move should help many thousands of people throughout the UK who find themselves faced with both mounting debts and serious mental health issues.
Expectations are that the government’s support for the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s cause will give people in mental health crisis situations six weeks of relief from fees, charges and collections activity associated with their debts.
A recently introduced government scheme already gives people with problem debt the right to claim ‘breathing space’ periods if they seek out third party advice on how to start dealing with their financial problems.
The aim underpinning the scheme has been to give borrowers a better chance of sustainably sorting out their debt issues while halting some of the more problematic patterns that tend to characterise a debt management situation spiralling out of control.
Official government policies should now mean that anyone being treated by NHS mental health crisis teams will be able to access ‘breathing space’ from their creditors regardless of whether or not they are in a position to seek out debt advice.
A host of charity groups have been backing the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s campaign for the changes to government policies, including StepChange, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
Martin Lewis, founder and chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “This move could genuinely save lives. It’s a victory for common sense – and we’re delighted the government has come on board.
“Stopping those in mental health crisis being hassled over debts, will be a huge help, aiding their recovery, and in due course should also improve their likelihood of repaying what they owe one day. It’s a win-win.”
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Politicians planning to stand in the upcoming Holyrood elections are being urged to take action to help tackle key issues relating to poverty among families across Scotland.
The number of Scots struggling to keep a roof over their heads is sure to rise in the coming months as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt.
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