Universal Credit vs. the People Universal Credit was initially trialled in the North East and it did not go well. In response, the government made it national policy. A few years after the experiment of Universal Credit first begun in Newcastle, it has become clear that the devastating effects of the reformed benefits system were not unique to the city. The benefit, which was initially disparaged for causing a housing crisis in the area it was first trialled has since been tied to a national increase in homelessness. Homelessness has not been the only consequence of the change to the benefit system; the rollout of universal credit has been plagued by scandals. Unreasonable waiting times, increased dependence on food banks and a failure to meet the needs of working claimants have been just some of the flaws identified with Universal Credit. "Foodbank usage in Gateshead has increased significantly since the introduction of Universal Credit. 1,811 foodbank parcels were issued in 2015 compared to 1,698 in the entire three year period prior, and 4,861 parcels were issued in 2016." - The Gateshead Housing Company The failures of Universal Credit have been further evidenced in recently published research conducted by Citizens Advice, with the revelation that a third of people aided by the charity face challenges providing evidence for their claim. Almost half (48%) of the people interviewed in the survey who qualified for the benefit's additional financial support reported difficulties providing evidence for health conditions. Of those qualifying for extra aid, 40% struggle to provide evidence for housing and 35% struggle to provide evidence for childcare. The process of making a Universal Credit claim consists of ten stages, an arduous process which takes over a week for a quarter of people helped by Citizens Advice. If a claimant misses a deadline or incorrectly fills out a form there is a chance they will have to reapply for the benefit from the beginning. As Universal Credit can only be applied for online, the application process can be particularly difficult for those unfamiliar with computers, an issue which disproportionately affects the elderly. Citizens Advice is urging the government to simplify this claims process and to provide adequate support for those who need it. Of particular precedence is the need to make it easier for claimants to submit evidence.