Simon Crine, Director, Money and Mental Health

Recovery Space - you did it!

We just heard some fantastic news. Tonight the Government agreed that people experiencing a mental health crisis should be able to benefit from the proposed new ‘breathing space’ debt respite scheme. This is first and foremost a success for people in mental health crisis but is also a great success for our Recovery Space campaign and everyone who gave us their support, including 23 national charities and organisations, the 80+ MPs who backed our amendment, and the 10,500 people who signed our letter to the Chancellor.

The proposals mean that people accessing NHS mental health crisis services, whether as an inpatient or in the community, should get a break from escalating fees, charges and collections activity on their debts while they focus on recovery.

We’d like to thank you all for your hard work and we’d like to offer a special thank you to the three cross-party MPs Johnny Mercer, Luciana Berger and Norman Lamb, who helped us to table our amendments and worked so hard to get the Government onboard with our proposals.

However, the campaign isn’t over yet. We will be watching closely over the coming months to make sure this pledge becomes a reality.

The commitment

Following the successful delivery of our petition letter to Downing Street on Monday, today marked another key moment for our campaign as MPs debated our amendments to the Bill that will establish the debt respite scheme. In response to their calls, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen made the following commitment on the floor of the House of Commons:

“The Government does recognise… the wide degree of support behind this and the particular issues for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

“We will commit to ensuring that people receiving NHS treatment for a mental health crisis, either in a psychiatric inpatient setting or in the community, will be provided with an alternative mechanism to access the breathing space scheme and we will see that this is developed concurrently with the main breathing space scheme.”

Making a real difference

As our Recovery Space report shows, up to 23,000 people in England alone struggled with debt while in hospital for a mental health problem last year. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as many thousands more people living in the devolved nations, or receiving care from a community crisis team, will have been in a similar situation.

Extending breathing space to people in mental health crisis will mean that this group will be able to secure a break from the pressure of escalating debts. This would not only help to protect them from further financial difficulty, but importantly, would also aid their recovery.

What’s next

We are delighted that the Government has listened and committed to using breathing space to support people in mental health crisis. We will continue to work hard to make sure they deliver on this pledge, and look forward to updating you on our progress.