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:

An understanding of our concerns as country people really. I think that would probably sway me." >

Farmer from the constituency

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

The north of England gets missed out. Manchester is north and then Scotland and I think we're missed and people don't seem to realise how hard us people have it in Cumbria and in farms."

Agricultural student

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

20% of our turnover, which is a huge, significant slice, it used to be 17.5%, it used to be 15%, it went up to 20%. We've never been able to reflect that increase in VAT in our prices."

Victoria Farley, Lanercost Tea Room

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

What really matters is making sure that we support tourism, agricultural production, protect our beautiful landscape, deliver super-fast broadband, connect people, and make rural areas more prosperous and better places to live." >

Rory Stewart, Conservative candidate
Liberal Democrat candidate Neil Hughes Credit: ITV Border

Creating jobs, particularly for young people; making sure that education is lifelong, cradle to grave; supporting health and social care, with particular focus on mental health needs; and not neglecting the environment, trying to bring in zero carbon as quickly as we possibly can." >

Neil Hughes, Liberal Democrat candidate
Labour candidate Lee Rushworth Credit: ITV Border

We need a fairer way of doing things: we haven't been fair. The most vulnerable seem to have had the most impact: incomes are down, £1,600 loss per household, NHS are screaming out for more help - we need to help them." >

Lee Rushworth, Labour candidate
UKIP candidate John Stanyer Credit: ITV Border

I think this election is a big chance for the people of this country to make a change in politics. For so many years now, we've been stuck with the same politicians: three main parties, all of whom are exactly the same, with the same people, from the same background." >

John Stanyer, UKIP candidate

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: