MORE than 700 people across Barnsley have been threatened with eviction after falling behind with their rent because of the 'bedroom tax'.

Berneslai Homes has sent out the first stage letters telling people they could lose their homes if they don't pay up.

There are 3,500 people in the town who get housing benefit and are affected by the bedroom tax, and many have been left struggling to make ends meet.

Susan Moore, 55, of Clipstone Avenue, Athersley North, has not paid anything since the 'bedroom tax' came into effect on April 1. She is classed as having one spare bedroom.

She has received a letter saying she owes £46.85 in rent arrears and that she must pay within seven days or could face legal action which could lead to eviction.

Before April 1, Susan received 100 per cent housing benefit and did have to not pay anything towards her rent. She now has to pay £9.50 per week.

Susan, who had a kidney transplant last June, said: "I haven't paid anything because I can't afford to pay.

"I get £170 for two weeks - I have bills like everyone else.

"If I paid that money, I would have to sacrifice food."

Susan, who also suffers from depression, said she survives on toast, cornflakes and biscuits and only buys food when any of her 21 grandchildren come to stay.

She has been to the Citizen's Advice Bureau who are looking into her case but in the meantime, she is still unable to pay and is getting further into arrears.

Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis said many of those receiving rent arrears letters would never have been behind with their rent before and he would be working closely with the council and Berneslai Homes to try and prevent the situation from deteriorating.

“I am sure Berneslai Homes will now want to now work carefully, hand in hand with residents to support people who have fallen behind with payments and provide much needed assistance - as they have done for other cases of arrears. I know that eviction is an absolute last resort which no one wants to see happening, especially is such a shocking and unfair situation."

Berneslai Homes said it could not give assurances that action won't be taken against those who don't pay.