'Turning to crime to survive': What to expect from tonight's episode of Skint Britain set in Hartlepool

Darren says he has to resort to robbing drug dealers with a knife after his benefits were sanctioned.'Image by Channel 4.
Darren says he has to resort to robbing drug dealers with a knife after his benefits were sanctioned.'Image by Channel 4.

The second episode of controversial documentary Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits shows people in Hartlepool resorting to crime in a bid to survive.

The three-part series from Channel 4 returns to TV screens tonight showcasing a town rocked by the introduction of the Government's new benefit system.

John Watson has set up a security services firm. 'Image by Channel 4.

John Watson has set up a security services firm. 'Image by Channel 4.

Universal Credit, which is aimed at getting people on benefits back to work, replaces six other benefits with a single monthly payment for people out of work or on a low income.

Hartlepool was one of the pilot areas for the roll-out of the new system and the new show aims to portray how Universal Credit has impacted on people's lives.

Producers say the show is set to feature the impacts it has had on crime, homelessness, loan sharks, hunger and evictions in the town as claimants struggle to survive.

The second part of the series shows how some residents in the town have resorted to selling stolen goods, searching for scrap metal and shoplifting as an attempt to feed themselves.

Hartlepool resident Graham is forced to resort to shoplifting to survive. 'Image by Channel 4.

Hartlepool resident Graham is forced to resort to shoplifting to survive. 'Image by Channel 4.

Details for the second episode of the show say: "When the residents of Hartlepool became guinea pigs for the roll-out of Universal Credit - the new benefits system aimed at getting people on benefits back to work - a series of events were triggered that even the government didn't predict.

"Far away from the Westminster bubble, the stark realities of the tougher new system's impact on people's lives come sharply into focus.

"Spiralling crime, homelessness, loan sharks, hunger and evictions hit the town as claimants struggle to survive.

"Since the arrival of Universal Credit and cuts to the local police force, crime has leapt in Hartlepool.

"The hawking of stolen goods has become a regular occurrence on the streets of the town, and even drug dealers now find themselves on the receiving end of crime.

"For those who can't stomach robbery, the hunt for scrap metal to sell to scrap merchants offers a meagre few pounds.

"Spiralling levels of shoplifting severely eat into shocked shopkeepers' bottom line, with traditionally trusted customers now inflating the numbers, stealing as they attempt to fill their empty cupboards.

"For others, the crime wave presents a business opportunity.

"Former soldier 'Winky' decides to get into the private security business, offering his services to protect the property of concerned citizens.

"Meanwhile, a life away from Universal Credit is looking more possible for budding drummer Tamsyn, when she's invited to play the biggest gig of her life supporting a local group who've already scored a hit song."

Skint Britian: Friends Without Benefits airs at 9pm tonight on Channel 4.