Here to help you take #thefirststep towards resolving money worries this Debt Awareness Week (22-28 March)

22 Mar 2021

Dealing with debt can be confusing and scary. There are hundreds of reasons why people put off getting debt advice – some fear they’ll be judged, others bury their head in the sand and hope things will improve, and many simply aren’t aware that free, impartial debt advice is available.

StepChange Debt Charity, who runs the annual Debt Awareness Week (DAW) campaign, estimates that the average person waits 12 months between realising they’re in financial trouble and getting debt advice for the first time, during which their situation can get even worse.

This Debt Awareness Week (22-28 March) marks a year since lockdown measures were first introduced and we are encouraging our tenants and customers to take their first steps out of debt by starting a conversation with us.

Here Steven Higham, our Money Advice Officer, shares his thoughts on how he can help tenants and customers by giving them impartial advice on how to face debt head on.

He said: “It’s impossible to ignore the fact that the past year has been difficult for many of us. No one could have anticipated how long the coronavirus situation would last for, or how hard the financial impact would hit.

“The pandemic has affected us all but undoubtedly there will be those who have been hit harder than others due to job losses or reduced hours, amongst other things. This often results in mounting financial pressure and increased debt.

“While stats suggest that personal debt is on the increase this is still more often than not a subject that is off limits, with many people feeling embarrassed or even ashamed to bring this up and tending to ‘bury their heads in the sand’ instead, which of course is the very opposite of what anyone should do when they find themselves in debt.

“Debt Awareness Week can hopefully help to remove the stigma surrounding this subject, and here at WHA we can offer guidance and advice to overcome the barriers to debt free living.

“There are many tools and options available to start resolving a debt problem. Two government initiatives which can help are Debt Relief Orders and the Debt Respite Scheme.”

Debt Relief Orders

If you owe less than £20,000, do not have much spare income and do not own your home a Debt Relief Order (DRO) may be a way of dealing with your debts if you can’t afford to pay them. It means you don’t have to pay certain kinds of debt for a specified period (usually 12 months). At the end of the DRO period, the debts included in it will be written off (‘discharged’) and you won’t have to pay them.

The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) – this does not come into force until May 4, 2021

The Debt Respite Scheme will give someone in problem debt the right to legal protections from their creditors.

There are two types of breathing space: a standard breathing space and a mental health crisis breathing space.

A standard breathing space is available to anyone with problem debt. It gives 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.

A mental health crisis breathing space is only available to someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment and it has some stronger protections. It lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days (no matter how long the crisis treatment lasts).

If you want support with tackling a debt problem, or you are worried about the impact of coronavirus on your finances, help and support is available. Email us at to arrange a call with Steven who can advise on suitable options and signpost you to an organisation that can help.


“Thank you so much for your help in getting me set up in my new home” 

Anonymous – WHA Resident

“We’re really grateful for the excellent service we received from Warrington Housing Association’s Money Adviser and the extra money has made a big difference, helping us hire a gardener and be able to go to LifeTime more often where we enjoy singing in the choir”

Mr & Mrs Holland – WHiA Customers

“I’m so grateful to Warrington Housing Association for reaching out to me to make sure I’m claiming my full benefit entitlements”

Ms Heseltine – WHA Resident

“We couldn’t have navigated the benefits system without the fantastic help we received from Warrington Housing Association’s Money Adviser”

Andrew & Eileen – WHA Residents

“I felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I had somebody on my side”

Barbara, WHA resident

Warrington Housing Association 

Contact Us

Tel: 01925 246810
Fax: 01925 246814

Warrington Housing Association, the Gateway, 89 Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1SR