Households potentially face a double whammy of debt as they head into 2017.

That’s the warning from Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre, which is appealing to people affected by the recent benefit cap to keep a tight rein on Christmas spending.

The advice comes days before the annual Black Friday shopping day, when many retailers slash prices on major items.

Debt advice experts with the charity are urging anyone heading into financial difficulties not to put off seeking assistance until the New Year.

The move follows the government’s decision to reduce the benefit cap outside London by £6,000 a year from £26,000 to £20,000.

Couples in Kirklees with or without children, or lone parents, now receive a maximum weekly benefit of £384.62 (down from £500).

Single persons outside London with no children or who are not responsible for children receive a maximum of £257.69 (down from £350) or £13,400 a year.

Some people may still be receiving the old amount as the new limits are being phased in gradually.

But everyone who is subject to the benefit cap should be getting the new amount by January 2017.

People aged 16 to 64 who work fewer than 16 hours a week and whose benefit entitlement takes them over the cap are likely to have their housing benefit or universal credit reduced.

There are fears that larger families or those living within the more expensive private rental sector will disproportionately feel the impact of the changes.

Martin Whitaker, head of the Debt Advice Team, revealed that the number of rent arrears cases is already rising and that his team expects this pattern to continue as the effects of the benefit cap take hold.

“The benefit cap will only increase pressure on those already struggling to pay their rent,” he said.

“The earlier that people ask for help, the better opportunity [they have of] avoiding potential eviction from their home.”

Among the benefits included when working out whether a person’s benefit income is more than the cap are: bereavement allowance, child benefit, housing benefit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, maternity allowance and widow’s pension.

Among those not included are: cold weather payments, free school meals, state retirement pension and statutory sick pay.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the changes, introduced on November 7, will stop families getting huge payouts without working - but campaigners say it has crucial flaws.

Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre has contact centres in both Huddersfield and Dewsbury. It can be reached on 0344 8487970 or via