Caseworkers at award-winning charity Christians Against Poverty are celebrating after the success of a landmark campaign saw a change in UK law help people who are in both mental health crisis and struggling with serious debt.
Campaigners from as many as 23 organisations, including CAP, lobbied parliament for extra breathing space for those in serious debt who are in hospital or under the care of a community crisis team.
The campaign, led by Martin Lewis’s Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and backed by more than 80 MPs, sought breathing space from further interest, charges and enforcement action as part of the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill.
The institute argued those in mental health crises struggle to seek debt advice but should not be excluded from 'breathing space' as a result. It estimates up to 23,000 people a year experience problem debt while in hospital for a mental health crisis.
In a recent survey, more than half of CAP’s clients said they live in a household where at least one person suffered from mental ill-health and 34% shared they had either considered or attempted suicide as a way out of debt.
Matt Barlow, CAP CEO, said: “We are delighted that common sense has prevailed. Every day we receive phone calls from people in desperate situations. We can help them and give them hope that there is always a way forward. However, it is more difficult for those calling from hospital. They shouldn’t have to be worrying about their financial problems while they are being cared for, but the breathing space should make all the difference.”
Christians Against Poverty is a charity that gives free help to everyone regardless of age, gender, faith or background. Starting 20 years ago, it first offered debt counselling and now offers a range of help to tens of thousands of people in hardship across the UK every year.
Anyone in need of help should call 0800 3280006.