THOUSANDS of people are receiving benefits due to mental and behavioural disorders in parts of North Somerset, figures show.

The Employment and Support Allowance is provided to people who are struggling to work due to long term health conditions. It is available to those unable to work completely, and for people whose hours are limited by their condition.

Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions show 2,301 people in North Somerset were claiming ESA due to mental or behavioural conditions as of last summer – 49% of the 4,681 claimants in the area.

These conditions accounted for almost half of the 1.6 million people claiming the benefit across Great Britain and were the most common reason in every area and region.

In North Somerset, they were followed by 'musculoskeletal' diseases – which includes issues with joints, bones and muscles – with 634 people receiving ESA.

As of December 2023, two million people were on Universal Credit health benefits, including 5,723 in North Somerset. This was a rise from 1.6 million (4,654 in North Somerset) a year earlier.

A DWP spokesperson said: "We are taking the long-term decisions to help everyone who can work to do so, improving lives and growing the economy.”