Constituency report: Penrith and the Border

Credit: ITV Border

Penrith and the Border, the most sparsely populated constituency in England, has historically been one of the safest seats in the region.

Conservative Rory Stewart was elected five years ago with more than 53% of the vote - ahead of the Liberal Democrats and then Labour.

But in this unpredictable election, no seat can be considered safe.

The constituency

The Penrith and the Border constituency is geographically the largest in England.

It stretches from the Yorkshire border, across to parts of the Lake District, and includes a 40-mile stretch of the Scottish border.

The breakdown of results at the 2010 election was as follows:

Credit: ITV Border

So what do those voting this year need to know?

At a glance:

  • Agriculture is one of the biggest industries in the constituency

  • Thousands of people are also employed in tourism

  • Wages are low, at an average of £16,000 a year

  • Unemployment is low - less than 1% of people are claiming Job Seekers Allowance

  • It has one of the highest proportions of small businesses in the country

  • More than 90% of people work for firms employing less than 10 people

Agriculture and business are important industries for many voters in the area.

For those involved in farming, it's important their elected MP understands their way of life:

Some voters believe the needs of farmers in the region are often ignored because of its location:

For others, the rate of VAT is crucial, because of the importance of small businesses to the economy:

The candidates

We asked some of the candidates standing for election on May 7 to tell us what it is that they think matters in the constituency:

Conservative candidate Rory Stewart Credit: ITV Border
Liberal Democrat candidate Neil Hughes Credit: ITV Border
Labour candidate Lee Rushworth Credit: ITV Border
UKIP candidate John Stanyer Credit: ITV Border

A full list of the candidates registered to stand in Penrith and the Borders is as follows:

  • George Bryan Burrow (Green Party)

  • Neil Hughes (Liberal Democrats)

  • Lee Rushworth (Labour)

  • John Stanyer (UKIP)

  • Rory Stewart (Conservative)

Watch Tim Backshall's full report on the Penrith and the Border constituency: