Wrexham and Flintshire residents seek protection for debt issues

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Hundreds of people in Wrexham and Flintshire have sought legal protection after battling problematic debt, new figures show.

In May 2021, the government launched its Over-indebtedness Scheme which allowed people unable to repay their debts to become eligible for ‘respite’, meaning creditors cannot take legal action against them while they settle their finances.

There are two types of respite – a “standard”, which provides legal protection against debt collection for up to 60 days, and one for those undergoing treatment for a mental health crisis.

The latter protects throughout the duration of their treatment, and for 30 days afterwards.

Government Insolvency Service data shows 120 people were given respite in Wrexham between May 2021 and April this year.

This means that 11.2 were started for every 10,000 people in the region.

In Flintshire, 259 people received respite in the same period, meaning 20.8 people were started for every 10,000 people in the region.

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Breathing Spaces can only be granted by an organization that gives advice and support on debt – such as StepChange, a debt charity.

Sue Anderson, media manager at the charity, said while there were “lessons learned” from the programme’s first year, it had been a success overall.

However, she warned that inflation was pushing more people into debt.

“The steep rise in the cost of living has increased the risk of falling into problematic debt – even more so for financially vulnerable households, with data from StepChange showing that the cost of living is now the second most cited reason for indebtedness among new customers, up from the sixth most common in 2021,” she added.

In England and Wales, almost 64,000 breathing spaces were granted in the year to the end of April – including more than 1,000 for people in mental health crisis.

READ MORE: Thousands of households in Flintshire and Wrexham will receive cost of living support

They included 3,588 across Wales.

Citizen’s Advice, which supports people on a variety of money issues, administered an additional 15% of all breathing space.

He recommends people check to see if their debts are covered by the scheme and speak to one of his advisers to discuss their options.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We are proud of the respite program which has supported over 63,000 people in debt – helping to regain control of their finances.

“We understand people are struggling with rising prices, which is why we have acted to protect the 8 million most vulnerable UK families with at least £1,200 in direct payments this year, with additional support for retirees and those applying for disability benefits.”

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