Thousands of people across the North East are now on Universal Credit.

It is the new welfare system that is replacing six “legacy” benefits, including unemployment benefit, tax credits and housing benefit.

More and more people are being added to the system - despite critics arguing that its introduction has put poorer claimants in particular at heightened risk of hunger, debt and rent arrears, ill-health and homelessness.

In the latest episode of The North in Numbers, we explore the introduction of Universal Credit, and the impact the controversial new benefits system is having on families across the region.

The episode is set in Teesside and speaks to claimants about their experiences.

You’ll hear first hand how some people are desperately struggling under the system, as well as from charities and experts who want to see it improved.

One woman said: "I had to get an advance otherwise I wasn't going to get paid for over 30 days. And I am still paying that off now. It's been over 12 months"

She continued: "It's just a cycle of never-ending debt."

You can listen to the podcast here:

The North in Numbers tells the human stories behind the various statistics for the North of England.

Join local journalists, experts and those most affected as they get to the heart of the figures that particularly impact the North - whether that’s looking at the huge rise in homelessness, the impact of council cuts, or the boom in restaurants seen across the region.

Every episode will look at the North as a whole, but will also highlight the towns and cities witnessing the biggest problems, or seeing the most significant rises - good or bad.

This week host Annie Gouk, deputy editor of data and multimedia at Reach, talks to several struggling Universal Credit claimants, and representatives from various charities, including Crisis, the Trussell Trust and Turn2Us.

This is a Laudable production for ChronicleLive.