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Tories echo Labour in pledge to introduce breathing space

The Conservative Party has pledged to adopt a “breathing space” scheme for those in serious problem debt as part of its election manifesto.

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Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party
Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party

The scheme would freeze interest, charges and enforcement action for debtors for up to six weeks.


The manifesto, published today, states that where appropriate, debtors will be offered a statutory repayment plan to help them pay back their debts in a manageable way, giving them time to seek advice to apply for a sustainable solution to their debt.


Labour also announced plans to introduce a similar scheme as part of its manifesto published this week.


In other parts of the manifesto, the Conservative Party stated it will support the initiative to make switching energy tariffs easier. It will also introduce an energy cap that will extend the price protection currently in place for some vulnerable customers to more customers on the “poorest value tariffs.”


It said this will protect customers who do not switch against abusive price increases as well as give them greater control over their energy bills.


In more general points in the manifesto, the Conservatives have pledged to “strengthen the hand of regulators”, including the powers of consumer enforcement bodies to order fines against companies breaking consumer law and deliver redress for wronged parties.


It said it will put the interest of vulnerable consumers first, including considering a duty on regulators to weigh up their needs.


The manifesto also stated the party would take steps to tackle rogue private parking operators and make billing for telecoms customers fairer and easier to understand.


Mike O’Connor, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity, said: “With consumer borrowing back at levels not seen since the economic crisis and continuing to grow strongly, the next government needs to commit to a concerted effort to tackle problem debt.”


He said the next government should work to ensure better alternatives to dangerous forms of high-cost credit are available.


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