The High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) has welcomed the Government’s new Breathing Space initiative, which comes into effect on 4 May.

Under the new scheme, interest, fees and enforcement can be frozen for up to 60 days people in problem debt, with further protections for those in mental health crisis treatment.

This must be initiated by a debt advisor or local authority on a debtor’s behalf. During this period, individuals will receive professional debt advice to find a long-term solution to their financial difficulties.

If a Breathing Space period is requested and the debtor is registered with a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO), under the scheme that HCEO is also responsible for ensuring they do not enforce any additional debts with that debtor, whether those are for the same or a different creditor.

While the onus is on creditors to ensure they put a stop to any enforcement activity once a Breathing Space period has been requested, the HCEOA has also taken steps to ensure its members are up to date on the latest guidance.

Andrew Wilson, Chairman of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association, said: “We support the 60-day Breathing Space period as a means to encourage people with problem debt to seek appropriate, long-term support.

“We have been working with our members to ensure everyone is aware of the new regulations as part of their existing commitments to practice sympathetic and responsible enforcement activity.  This involves preparing members to ensure the systems they have in place include the new Debt Respite Scheme, as well as making sure all training materials and other documentation are kept up to date.”

High Court enforcement activity is being undertaken in an appropriate, flexible and sensitive manner that reflects the challenges we are all facing as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The Association has developed a best practice Covid-19 plan.

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