Posted by Julia Roxan on 31 January 2017

"I was made redundant last month and I've already started to fall behind on my bills. I'm looking for work, but is there anything else I can do so I don't end up in debt?"

There are steps you can take to avoid your bills from building up.

First, check that you’ve been paid any redundancy money you’re entitled to - you might get statutory redundancy pay and possibly contractual redundancy pay if you’ve been in the job two years or more. They may also owe you holiday pay. This should be evident on your final payslip, but if it’s not contact your employer.

Then look at ways to boost your income. See if you’re eligible for benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit. You can do this with Citizens Advice’s benefits calculator if you have online access: at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits. You could also check if you can make savings on your bills, for example by switching to a cheaper gas or electricity deal.

Now look at how much money you have coming in and compare it to your essential spending. Priority bills include your rent or mortgage and council tax, and should be paid first as there can be serious consequences for missing payments.

If you own your home, contact your mortgage lender to see if you can negotiate on your monthly repayment. You could also see if your credit card provider or other lenders such as catalogue companies will negotiate on repayment amounts to give you some breathing space.