The Labour Party has announced it intends to “introduce a version of Scotland’s Debt Arrangement Scheme” as part of its election manifesto.
Scotland’s scheme gives someone in debt breathing space allowing them to repay their debts in full, with charges frozen, through a debt payment programme over an extended period of time.
This contrasts with current options open to debtors in England and Wales, such as debt management plans where debtors are not afforded protections from charges.
StepChange Debt Charity is now calling on all political parties to follow suit and include proposals of breathing space to help people manage their debt problems.
It said household debt is rising quickly and there are nearly nine million people in the UK who are using credit to cover everyday living expenses.
Mike O’Connor, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity, said: “Problem debt is rarely just a financial issue, it impacts on mental and physical health, it impacts on productivity and employment and it impacts on the lives of children in affected households.
“We need continuing efforts to crack down on harmful high-cost credit. And we need to help families build up savings to help insulate them from problem debt. These policies could limit the most harmful effects of debt and significantly reduce £8.3bn that it costs the UK.”
Towards the end of last year O’Connor expressed his concerns regarding the need for a statutory breathing space scheme for debtors.