Money and Pensions Service

As an independent agency, IFF Research have been commissioned by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) to evaluate the first pilot year of the MHCBS.

What is Breathing Space?

Breathing Space is a relatively new HM Treasury policy (May 2021) that gives someone in problem debt the right to legal protections from their creditors. The service is being delivered by the Mental Health & Money Advice Service arm of Rethink Mental illness (MHMAS), who provide specialist debt advice.

There are two strands to the programme:

  • Standard Breathing Space: available to anyone with problem debt, giving them legal protections from creditor action for up to 60 days. The protections include pausing most enforcement action and contact from creditors and freezing most interest and charges on their debts. As part of this, customers are asked to engage with debt advice.
  • Mental Health Crisis Breathing space: offers similar protections as the Standard model but has some stronger protections. Most notably, it lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days (no matter how long the crisis treatment lasts). It is available to anyone confirmed to be receiving mental health crisis treatment by an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). The primary aim is to prevent the situation worsening and aid recovery. When appropriate, the service will also deliver debt advice.

Please see below for a full summary of the programme, along with the various organisations and individuals involved:

Evaluation of the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space

More about MaPS

MaPS is an arms-length body of the Department of Work and Pensions with a statutory objective to develop and coordinate a national strategy to improve people’s financial capabilities. It was created as one organisation from three providers of government sponsored financial guidance, The Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

The organisation’s long term vision is to transform financial wellbeing across the UK. Their MHCBS activities include sourcing specialist input from Rethink Mental Illness and hosting a single point of entry. This is a MaPS-hosted webpage that allows mental health professionals and carers to apply for the scheme on a customers’ behalf.

More about Rethink and MHMAS

Rethink is one of the largest charitable providers of services for people living with mental illness in the UK. As such, they are well placed to make a direct impact on the care people receive and – more broadly – to transform at every level the way our nation approaches mental illness.

Based in the West Midlands, MHMAS provides specialist mental health debt advice across England. It currently operates as a remote-access service providing specialist debt advice and casework via telephone, e-mail and letter. It also offers a range of self-help tools and information via its website.

IFF’s role and who we’re speaking to

IFF Research have been commissioned by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) independently evaluate the MHCBS pilot. Evaluation activities include:

  • An initial scoping stage, whereby we spoke to colleagues involved in the design of the policy and service delivery. We also conducted a small-scale literature of relevant documents in this space.
  • Two waves of primary research in late 2021-early 2022, speaking again with individuals involved in policy and operational design, but also customers, Rethink staff and other professionals involved in the delivery “on the ground”. This includes debt advisors, Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) and Nominated Points of Contact (NPOCs).

If you want to find out more, please scroll down to our FAQs below. Alternatively you can get in touch with the IFF team on MHCBSresearch@iffresearch.com.

FAQs

I have been invited to take part in the evaluation, what can I expect?

Participation would involve speaking with a specialist researcher from our IFF research team, in the best way that works for you: over the phone or online via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

The interview itself would take around 60 minutes, depending on what you have to say. We will ask you about your experiences of the programme, your views on what works/worked well and what could be improved in the future.

I have been invited to take part in the evaluation, is it compulsory?

Taking part is entirely voluntary; while we sincerely hope you will be able to take part, we understand that it may not always be possible.

Your decision about whether or not to take part will not affect any support you receive through the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space programme, from your debt advisor or any other mental health or debt advice support.

What if I change my mind about taking part?

We will not ask you to tell us anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless, you can chose to withdraw from the research at any time. During our interviews you can also choose to take a break, stop the discussion or withdraw entirely.

Your decision about whether or not to take part will not affect any support you receive through the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space programme, from your debt advisor or any other mental health or debt advice support.

What about data protection and GDPR?

If you take part, we will:

  • Never share information that could identify you outside our IFF research team.
  • Promise to securely store your personal information and to only use it for research purposes.
  • Securely destroy any information about you at the end of the project.

You can read more about IFF’s GDPR policy here, our data sharing agreement here and our privacy notice here.

Who is eligible to take part?

We are interested in speaking with anyone involved in MHCBS, either as a customer or as part of the design/delivery team. With regards to the latter, we would particularly  like to speak with:

  • MHCBS customers
  • Other service users e.g., Anyone who has made a referral to MHCBS (either a self-referral or someone else’s behalf)
  • Debt advisors from Rethink or associated delivery partners
  • Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs)
  • Nominated Points of Contact (NPOCs)

If you’re involved in MHCBS in some capacity, willing and able to take part in the research, but not sure whether you fit into the above list: Please do get in touch with the IFF team anyway, who will be able to advise: MHCBSresearch@iffresearch.com.

How do I opt in to the research?

If you are interested in taking part in this research project, please email our IFF research team at: MHCBSresearch@iffresearch.com and we’ll arrange the interview at a date and time that suits you.