AN unemployed single father has been ordered to pay rent arrears caused by the 'bedroom tax' - even though his 15-year-old daughter occupies the room up to four nights a week.

Dad-of-two James Fawcett lives in a three-bedroom house on South Drive in Dodworth.

His 11-year-old son, Joshua, lives with him permanently and his 15-year-old daughter, Nicole, splits her time evenly between his house and her mother's.

James appeared at Barnsley Law Courts on Tuesday after failing to pay £405 in rent arrears.

The arrears is caused by a shortfall after the bedroom tax - a payment for a spare room - is deducted from a tenant's housing benefit. The tenant then has to make up the shortfall, but many have failed to do so.

"My daughter sleeps here three nights one week and four nights the next week," James said.

"They gave me a three-bedroom house on the basis that I have two children.

"My rent is already higher than someone in a two-bedroom house, so why should I have to pay for that room twice?

"The bedroom tax is ridiculous. I know they have got to get the money in somehow but it seems like they're picking on the small man."

He said suggestions had been made which included his children sharing a bedroom, sleeping on a sofa or sleeping in his room but he said that was unacceptable.

He added: "I fought for custody for a year-and-a-half and my daughter chose to split her time 50/50. Not seeing her is not an option."

James has been unemployed since losing his bricklaying business two years ago. He then suffered a bout of depression.

"I'm always looking for other jobs, but there aren't any about. There are bricklaying jobs I could do, but it means I'd have to work away and I'm a single dad. I just can't do it."

James claims £60 Jobseeker's Allowance per week and has been ordered to pay £15 a week to cover the shortfall in rent, £4 of which contributes towards his arrears.

James asked for the payments to be taken directly from his Jobseeker's Allowance.