More than £600,000 has been clocked up in rent arrears by Sandwell residents affected by the controversial bedroom tax, it has emerged.
A total of £634,350 is owed by three quarters of the tenants affected by the new rules and they could face eviction.
The shortfall has been accrued in just five months since the controversial changes were introduced in April.
In total, Sandwell Council has rent arrears of almost £2.5 million.
Borough finance boss Councillor Steve Eling today said the situation was a ‘nightmare’.
Under the bedroom tax anyone in council or social rented housing faces a 14 per cent or 25 per cent cut in their housing benefit if they have one or more spare bedrooms.
It means families potentially paying hundreds of pounds extra a year in rent unless they move to a smaller home.
As of March 31, there were 579 households in Sandwell looking to downsize, but by the start of September this rose to 666.
Councillor Eling today said: “We are four to five months into the impact of the bedroom tax now and it is pretty dire. I understand 75 per cent of people hit by bedroom tax are now in arrears so it is pretty bad and that arrears figure will just continue to grow. It is a nightmare scenario because theoretically all of those people with arrears could get evicted.”
The policy was intended to encourage people under-occupying council or social housing to move to smaller properties, freeing up larger homes. However, councils say there are not enough smaller properties.