AN MP is calling for more affordable housing to be built in Barnsley as the number of private renters in the borough more than doubled in five years.

In Barnsley, there were 4,161 claimants in the private rented sector in November 2008 and 6,559 five years later, a rise of 58 per cent.

The GMB research also shows some companies in Barnsley and Rotherham are receiving more than £300,000 a year in housing benefit direct from councils for tenants renting their properties.

This means the number of private landlords receiving housing benefit has more than doubled in parts of South Yorkshire in five years.

Housing benefit can be claimed by people in or out of work on a low income for part or all of their rent.

Wentworth and Dearne MP and former housing minister John Healey has called on the government to build more social housing for affordable rent.

He said: "More than nine million people rent their home from a private landlord.

"Housing benefit serves an important purpose in keeping a roof over the heads of families on low incomes. But many private rented homes are in poor condition.

"The money going to landlords could be used to build 1,000 new council or housing association homes every year in Barnsley and Rotherham.

"Because private rents are higher, if people were renting in social homes instead it could save more than £5m in Barnsley and Rotherham each year – enough to build another 100 affordable homes."