More than half of Walsall Housing Group tenants have fallen into rent arrears following the introduction of the controversial bedroom tax, it has emerged.
Of 2,596 tenants who have been hit by the policy a total of 1,336 slipped into debt within six months.
Under the bedroom tax anyone in council or social rented housing has received a cut in their housing benefit if they have one or more spare bedrooms.
It means some families are paying hundreds of pounds extra a year in rent unless they move to a smaller home.
The figures, which cover up to August 26, show there were 443 tenants who registered a request to downsize with 54 having been successfully moved.
Statistics emerged after a request to discover the impact of the bedroom tax from the town’s largest social landlord by councillor Pete Smith.
“Arrears will continue to mount unless this despicable and unjust tax is removed soon,” he said.
“People just cannot afford to pay it. Those who are paying it are going short on essentials, like a balanced diet, in order to afford it.”
Angry councillors in the borough have previously called for the controversial bedroom tax to be scrapped.
A notice of motion demanding the authority express its ‘anger and dismay’ at the housing benefit reform received cross-party support at the times of its introduction.
Finance and personnel chief, councillor Chris Towe, said all sides of the council had agreed the introduction of the bedroom tax should not have been implemented.
Rob Hughes, head of housing services at Walsall Housing Group said: “This is a constantly changing picture which we continue to monitor with the council, and we are actively working with those in rent arrears to ensure any arrears are addressed.
“We continue to support customers through the introduction of the bedroom tax with initiatives such as Jam Jar accounts, the launch of a specialist money mentor team and the development of new properties. We are also helping those who need to downsize to do so.”