PEOPLE worrying about changes to the benefit system have been attending meetings across the borough and turning to advice centres for help.

Recent changes will see some council tenants with spare bedrooms getting their benefit cut, but another change where people become responsible for sorting out their own rent payments has been delayed. 

Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis - who attended a meeting at the library on Wednesday night - said some of those there were in tears worrying about how they're going to manage.

"We had a number of people with heartbreaking stories, people who are extremely concerned about their futures, people that are disabled, unwell and caring for relatives who were all very concerned," he said.

Pat Heath, from the Citizens' Advice Bureau, said they had had increasing numbers calling in this week.

"Some of the people who have been to us this week have been in distress and very upset about the situation and wanting to know what options they have and what they can do to alleviate the situation," he said.

Up to a hundred residents have attended meetings in Athersley, Kendray and at Barnsley Library and have signed a petition calling for the council to ensure people are not evicted if they fall behind with their rent.

Fran Postlethwaite, of Barnsley Against Bedroom Tax, said people were terrified of losing their homes.

Tenant Susan Moore, 55, from Athersley North, said she cannot afford to pay the extra £9.50 per week for her spare room.

She downsized from a three-bedroom house in June following a kidney transplant.

"I just don't know what's going to happen - I can't afford it. That room gets used every weekend, as I have 21 grandkids."

The campaigners held a demonstration in the town centre on Saturday and plan to lobby the next full council meeting on April 25.

Council leader Steve Houghton said they did not have the discretion of not evicting people.

"If people are struggling with their rent we will help them and make arrangements for them to pay over a period of time, but they would have to pay. Eviction would be a last resort."