CHANGES to council tax benefits is expected to affect more than 12,000 in Barnsley - with many being forced to folk out hundreds of pounds extra.

Council leader Steve Houghton has warned that the changes to council tax by Central Government  will mean that thousands of claimants in Barnsley could lose up to 25 per cent of their council tax benefit.

He added: "For examply, a couple with children in a Band B property receiving Income Support will currently receive council tax benefit of £1089 a year or £20.89 per week. So they pay effectively nothing at the moment.

''With a 22 per cent reduction they will qualify for £849 a year or £16.30 per week. From nothing they will have to pay £239 a year or £4.59 a week.

''We think there is going to be a lot of hardship cases but there will be a social fund and people will have to bid for it so it will pit the poor against the poor. It is a shocking situation in the 21st century. It is a huge change. We have gone back 200 years.''