THOUSANDS of council tenants in the region have been pushed into debt by the so-called 'bedroom tax', according to new figures.

Barnsley, along with Rotherham, are the worst affected in Yorkshire, with almost 2,000 people falling into arrears since the changes came in on April 1.

A staggering 43 per cent of council-owned homes in Barnsley are in the red, according to figures released by councils in response to Freedom of Information requests.

New legislation means tenants have their housing benefit reduced by up to 25 per cent if their home has a spare bedroom.

The idea is to encourage people living in larger properties to move to smaller ones, freeing up space for families who need the room.

False Economy, the campaign group which collected the data, said some families were being given help through emergency funds provided by councils but with that money rapidly drying up, they're predicting the situation is likely to get far worse.