|Cat Smith MP|
Lancaster & Fleetwood
In Lancaster and Fleetwood alone, an estimated 2872 families with 4893 children are living with problem debt. Analysis from The Children’s Society shows that children in low-income families with multiple debts are more likely to suffer from mental health problems than equivalent families with fewer debts.
The rise in personal borrowing has led to mounting concern that households who get into debt need safer ways to manage financial difficulties.
Cat Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood, has joined calls in parliament to introduce a ‘Breathing Space’ scheme – supported by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity - that would offer people seeking debt advice a 12-month legal protection from mounting interest, charges and enforcement action. It would build on protections offered under the Debt Arrangement Scheme in Scotland, which has made sure that families sticking to an affordable repayment plan agreed with their creditors are not harried or hassled for the duration of that plan.
“It can't be right that children's mental health and happiness is suffering as a result of creditors unfairly escalating people’s debt problems.
“Families in problem debt need time and space to get back on their feet. By providing a period free from additional interest, charges and enforcement action, a new Breathing Space scheme would help families recover their financial situation and put in place a plan to affordably repay their debts.
“I’m pleased that the Breathing Space proposal has widespread cross-party support, including from the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the APPG on Debt and Personal Finance. The Government now needs to act by putting a comprehensive Breathing Space scheme in place.”