THE number of people who have contributed nothing towards their rent following the introduction of the 'bedroom tax' has fallen dramatically.

There are 2,700 tenants in Barnsley affected by the so-called tax, which is a reduction in the amount of housing benefit people in social housing receive if they're deemed to have a spare bedroom.

The latest figures from Berneslai Homes show that as of October 8, only 86 people had not paid anything towards the shortfall - a stark contrast to the 354 people who had still owed 100 per cent in May.

The figures also show that 858 tenants (35 per cent) have fully paid up.

But there are still 1,059 people who owe between one and 24 per cent of their arrears due to the bedroom tax shortfall.

Despite the drop, Fran Postlethwaite, of Barnsley Against Bedroom Tax, said 65 per cent of affected tenants were in arrears with their rent.

She said: "Every week we're meeting people who are struggling to feed themselves properly and keep up with their bills.

"The bedroom tax is driving many further into debt and creating real despair. When Berneslai Homes sends threatening letters to people who cannot manage to keep up with their payments this makes them even more frightened and desperate.

"We want Barnsley to join the 16 local councils who have promised that no-one will be evicted as a result of arrears arising from the bedroom tax."

During October, 73 people went before county court for rent arrears - 18 were related to the bedroom tax.

Of the 2,700 people affected by the bedroom tax, 15 per cent said they wished to downsize.

In 2012/13 Berneslai Homes rehoused 220 people in smaller homes, while so far this year it has rehoused 84.