Martin Lewis reveals how to get your debts paused or completely wiped out with little-known schemes | The Sun
MARTIN Lewis has revealed how you can get your debts paused or wiped completely with little-known schemes.
In a special episode on World Mental Health Day, the money-saving expert shared some tips to help those who may be struggling.
Martin started off the show by sharing some basic tips for people who may be finding it hard to manage their finances due to a mental health condition.
He suggested things that might help such as switching to a basic bank account, avoiding credit cards, or restricting yourself to a low-limit card.
The money expert also advised anyone struggling with debt to get free help from organisations such as Citizens Advice, Stepchange and National DebtLine.
Expanding on the help that these agencies can give you he said the "most important thing" they can do for you is put you on a 60-day "breathing space" scheme.
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Breathing Space Scheme
Martin went on to explain more about the breathing space scheme which is a scheme that freezes your interest and charges on any debt that you have.
Most debts are covered by the scheme including:
- Credit cards
- Store cards
- Personal loans
- Pay Day loans
- Utility bill arrears
- Mortgage or bill rent arrears
The scheme operates across England and Wales and essentially means you cannot be chased by your creditors.
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You will still have to make your basic payments on the scheme and you cannot refer yourself.
To be considered for the breathing space scheme you need to go through one of the debt-help organisations listed above.
If you are in "crisis mental health" treatment and in hospital for an extended period of time, you may also be eligible for an extension of 30 days extension.
Martin explained that the scheme can be put in place by nurses, carers and care workers, and urged people who work in those professions to read up on the scheme.
It is not guaranteed that you will be accepted onto the breathing space scheme, the organisation you apply through will decide if you meet the eligible criteria.
Priority Services Register
During the special episode, viewers were also getting in touch with concerns about their energy bills.
Martin explained that Ofgem has rules on how energy firms must treat vulnerable people.
He said: "Get yourself onto the priority services register".
The priority services register is a free support service that makes sure extra help is available.
There is a range of help available through the register such as expert help on how to manage your bill or tips on how you could save money on energy in the home.
You could also get better protection from fraud and free gas safety checks for your home.
Martin added that being on the register meant "winter disconnections" and "being forced onto a pre-payment metre" are "less likely".
The priority services register also applies to water bills, and he added that it is always worth talking to your water company.
He said: "I think Yorkshire Water if you are on breathing space wipes your charges for 60 days."
We checked on the Yorkshire Water website to see if this was the case and it does state that "Yorkshire Water will cover 60 days of charges for customers on the breathing space scheme".
To see if this was something offered by other companies we also had a look on the Thames Water website.
It states that they will not also chase you for payment for at least 60 days and will "work with you and or your debt advisor on a manageable payment plan."
Some water companies offer schemes that will wipe out your debt completely.
The best thing to do is contact your water or energy company and tell them you are struggling so that they can advise you on what they offer.
Martin said that councils need to "step up their game" and while it might be complicated you could still get help with your council tax.
He said that there is discount available for those who are suffering from "severe mental impairment".
The discount could range from 25% all the way up to 100% – with some households entirely exempt.
To be eligible for the discount you will need to:
- Get a certificate to say you're severely mentally impaired from a medical professional.
- Prove your eligibility for certain benefits which you can check with your local council.
If you qualify as severely mentally impaired you will get 100% discount if the following also apply:
- You live on your own
- Any other adults in the home also qualify or are full-time students.
If nobody else in the household is classed as severely mentally impaired and is disregarded from paying council tax such as live-in carers, you will qualify for 50% discount.
And if you live with someone who is severely mentally impaired, you will get a 25% discount as long as:
- There are no other adults in your household
- Everyone else in your home is disregarded.
The process for applying for the discount varies depending on where you live.
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If you contact your local authority they will be able to advise you on what you need to do.
You can find out who your local authority is by putting your postcode into the government website.
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