BERNESLAI Homes has sent out more than 385 notices seeking possession of homes of tenants who are behind with their rent because of so-called 'bedroom tax' payments.

Mark McGee, the director of housing management for Berneslai Homes, said there are 2,600 households in the borough who are affected.

He said June figures for those who owed money show that 734 households had paid their arrears in full, 765 have paid more than 75 per cent - but there are still 232 tenants who haven't paid anything.

He said: "What's beginning to happen is it looks as though people are trying to pay but are struggling and we're trying to give as much help and advice as we can.

"If people want to downsize, we're trying to be more flexible - even if they're in arrears."

He said more than 1,000 reminder letters have been sent out to tenants who are behind with payments, with almost 1,000 'sterner' reminder letters being sent.

"We've also served 385 notices seeking possession of homes, which is the first step in the legal process."

Pat Heath, chief executive of Barnsley Citizen's Advice, said potentially there is a sizeable number of people at risk of losing their homes.

"Hundreds of households in Barnsley could end up becoming homeless and they will have to find somewhere else, increasing the cost to the taxpayer overall.

"The figures give real cause for concern because of the impact on Berneslai Homes in terms of arrears increasing, which isn't going to do their services any good.

"There is also the human impact of people not being able to make payments and keep up with rent payments, that's scary for them as well."