Leeds Central

2015 Result:
Conservative: 7791 (17.3%)
Labour: 24758 (55%)
Lib Dem: 1529 (3.4%)
Green: 3558 (7.9%)
UKIP: 7082 (15.7%)
TUSC: 330 (0.7%)
MAJORITY: 16967 (37.7%)

Category: Ultra-safe Labour seat

Geography: Yorkshire and the Humber, West Yorkshire. Part of the Leeds council area.

Main population centres: Leeds.

Profile: The centre of Leeds, including the retail and commercial centre of the city and the city`s two universities. This is a deprived seat made up of mostly rented and often low quality housing. There is a significant Asian minority and a larger student populaton. The constituency also includes Middleton park and the large industrial area to the east of the city centre.

Politics: A safe Labour seat, held by the party since its recreation in 1983. The 1999 by-election that saw the return of Hilary Benn had a turnout of only 19.6%, the second lowest on record.

Current MP
HILARY BENN (Labour) Born 1953, Hammersmith, son of former cabinet minister Tony Benn. Educated at Holland Park School and the University of Sussex. Former trade union officer. Ealing councillor 1979-1990. Contested Ealing North 1983, 1987. First elected as MP for Leeds Central in 1999 by-election. Parliamentary under secretary for international development 2001-2002, prisons minister 2002-2003, minister of state for international development 2003, secretary of state for international development 2003-2007, Secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs (despite being a vegetarian) 2007-2010. Shadow Leader of the House 2010-2011, Shadow Communities Secretary 2011-2015. Shadow Foreign Secretary since 2015. Contested Labour deputy leadership in 2007.
Past Results
Con: 7541 (20%)
Lab: 18434 (49%)
LDem: 7789 (21%)
BNP: 3066 (8%)
Oth: 564 (2%)
MAJ: 10645 (28%)
Con: 3865 (13%)
Lab: 17526 (60%)
LDem: 5660 (19%)
BNP: 1201 (4%)
Oth: 934 (3%)
MAJ: 11866 (41%)
Con: 3896 (14%)
Lab: 18277 (67%)
LDem: 3607 (13%)
UKIP: 775 (3%)
Oth: 751 (3%)
MAJ: 14381 (53%)
Con: 5077 (14%)
Lab: 25766 (70%)
LDem: 4164 (11%)
Oth: 960 (3%)
MAJ: 20689 (56%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
NICOLA WILSON (Conservative)
HILARY BENN (Labour) See above.
EMMA SPRIGGS (Liberal Democrat)
LUKE SENIOR (UKIP) Born Beeston. Educated at Morley High School and Leeds Metropolitan University. Mortgage broker.
Comments - 147 Responses on “Leeds Central”
  1. I agree that its not really the govs fault re tax evasion, There really can only be a global solution, I don’t blame Cam and co for not fixing it, pretty much no single gov could.

    As for benefit fraud its another complex issue but prioritising tacking it over tax evasion is frankly silly. The amount Google evades alone exceeds the amount lost in benefit fraud, plus there is no real way to tackle benefit fraud that isn’t either a) more expensive than the benefits of solving the problem or b) hugely damaging to many legitimate benefits claimants.

  2. Roberbutton – well put re benefit fraud.

    I recall when an SNP MP asked at a Select Committee why they employ more to investigate benefit fraudsters than tax evaders.

    The simple answer which the head of HMRC and COO of the DWP gave was that there are more of them and they are geographically spread all over the UK, so you need surveillance to be likewise. Over 1,000 people per month are prosecuted for benefit fraud.

    Yes, catching 1 banker is probably equivalent in revenue repaid than say 50 JSA/HB/ESA/Motability fraudsters, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge caseload backlog for both.

    Sadly there’s often little disincentive to commit such fraud – almost like an interest-free loan if they’re asked to just repay it. Although the Courts do at last seem to be getting tougher on fraud from cash for crash all the way upto that guy who faked his own death.

  3. “As for benefit fraud its another complex issue but prioritising tacking it over tax evasion is frankly silly. The amount Google evades alone exceeds the amount lost in benefit fraud,”

    Where did I say it should be prioritised? I just don’t happen to think that there should be one or other approach.

    “plus there is no real way to tackle benefit fraud that isn’t either a) more expensive than the benefits of solving the problem or b) hugely damaging to many legitimate benefits claimants.”

    Ok then, lets just ignore it.

  4. Robberbutton
    As funny as it may sound I would just ignore it (for the time being at least) there are much more pressing issues, much bigger fish costing the taxpayer vastly larger sums of money than benefit fraudsters and only so many civil servants and government time to tackle each issue.

    Don’t get me wrong I understand why the Tories largely ignore tax evasion and prioritise benefit fraud, its for the same reason I endorse the polar opposite. You don’t want to highlight the “flaws” of your own ideology. For the left that means trying to hide the fact that our safety nets are open to abuse, for the right that means trying to hide the fact that “greed is good” up until the point its clearly not…

  5. Haha Rivers10 – I think you’ll find both of your suppositions are from the Left. Even in a hypothetical you can’t give the other side’s view without a Left slant.

    Yes there’s £8 Billion pa of tax evasion by individuals v
    £ 4 Billion in benefit fraud. But you’d think it was £200 Billion v 50p listening to some on the Left.

  6. Being a naturally greedy right winger I want the 12 billion quid in my exchequer

  7. I think the benefit fraud figure is £1.2bn. The “tax gap” is around £34bn according to HMRC, although a lot of this is avoidance rather than illegal evasion – HMRC put the amount illegally evaded at £4.4bn.

  8. The arguments around “benefit fraud vs tax avoidance/evasion” are, for me, akin to people being stopped for speeding who say “Shouldn’t you be out catching rapists instead?”

    The further arguments are not necessarily around “benefit fraud” too, although that is clearly something that needs to be stamped out as an illegal activity much like tax evasion needs to be stamped out as an illegal activity.

    What gets the blood boiling amongst many is not “benefit fraud” but “benefit entitlement” which, like “tax avoidance”, is perfectly legal but considered immoral.

    One needs to compare like for like when comparing how evil/immoral each is. Sure, let’s close the loopholes around “tax avoidance”, but combine this with measures to combat “benefit entitlement” in ensuring help actually reaches those who “need” it, not those who “want” it.

  9. The best way to stop benefit fraud is not to have the benefits in the first place. That also solves the argument of migrants being attracted by benefits. IMO the welfare system should be pared down to a pension scheme and time-limited unemployment insurance, both fully funded and accessible only to those who have contributed. And you would still need to support the disabled, military veterans and the infirm of course. But child benefit, tax credits, housing benefit etc should all go.

  10. Lancs Observer
    “Yes there’s £8 Billion pa of tax evasion by individuals v
    £ 4 Billion in benefit fraud”

    Well first of all the benefit figure I’ve seen is clearly the same one as Andy quoted at 1.2 bn not 4 bn.

    Also two key words in your post. “Evasion” and “individuals”
    As Andy also stated evasion is illegal, avoidance is legal but very VERY immoral and a much higher figure is lost this way. Finally wealthy “individuals” are not the main issue, corporations are the real culprits in this squirreling away vastly more money than individuals.

  11. £4 Bn pa is the agreed figure for benefit fraud (even from those criminal defence sols who represent them).

    £1.6 Bn is purely DWP fraud (JSA/UC/ESA/etc), there’s almost the same again from local authorities (HB/LHA/CTB), £200m unrecoverable ie fraud where an offence was admitted but recover impossible as the claimants died or went abroad or moved and couldn’t be traced. Then there’s 24 other smaller benefits such as Mutability, prescriptions and so on ie entitlements based on those in receipt of means-tested benefits but only 10% are checked.

    I agree there’s also £2 Bn pa in overpayments which is the fault of HMRC & the DWP.

    So I was merely pointing out actual figures from prosecutions pa.

    Yes, there’s lots of potential tax evasion out there, but there’s also plenty of those eg claiming to be single mothers or claiming the Council tax discount who don’t qualify. Any politician knows this who has canvassed a couple with just the woman on the Roll.

  12. HH – Whilst I agree with your sentiment, I don’t with your final sentence.

    HB is needed and some of the errors and threatened evictions are due to failings in local authorities’ bureaucracy (ie not just non-payment by tenants), but I certainly agree with the benefits for 2 children cap which is coming into force for new claimants.

  13. Lancs Observer
    Fair enough on the BF figures, that does seem plausible and I confess the figure I’ve seen I’ve only heard quoted, never actually bothered to look into how it was measured.

    But even at 4bn the amount lost through tax evasion/avoidance by the wealthy (individual and corporations) dwarfs it. HMRC put the figure lost at 34bn but most organisations, watchdogs and academic research think that’s hugely conservative and the figure could actually be as high as 120bn!!!!

  14. “The best way to stop benefit fraud is not to have the benefits in the first place. ”

    Sounds like you’re becoming more like your american wife every day Hemmelig

  15. Child benefit and housing benefit have become corporate welfare. The solution though isn’t to cut it altogether but to raise wages and regulate the rented sector to reduce to the welfare budget.

  16. Without housing benefit the slum landlords would have to cut their rents in half. The value of their slums would also fall significantly and maybe the state could buy them up cheaply. As you say, it’s corporate welfare for some of the least pleasant people imaginable. In exchange for ending housing benefit I’d have no problem with the government guaranteeing to find and fund housing for deserving cases with a British passport. Homeless non-citizens, well they are able to go home.

    Child benefit – there’s no reason why we need to subsidise people having children when our population is rising 500,000 per year.

  17. H.Hemmeig
    Re housing benefit you may be right but I wouldn’t be willing to risk abolishing housing benefit to see. I’d much rather attempt my earlier solution of rent controls/house building to naturally reduce it to the point were its not needed, then potentially scrap it.

    As for child benefit its not really a subsidy to have children more a payment to ensure said child doesn’t starve. Scrapping it wouldn’t encourage people to have smaller families it would just penalise those that choose to have larger ones. If the Gov wants people to have smaller families it should invest in proper Sex Ed which thankfully the Tory mainstream seem to be cottoning on to (although sadly the right of the party is still blocking it for some reason)

  18. I think the government should invest in affordable housing without incentive to do it. There was a time when Conservative PMs invested in social housing because it was the right thing to do.

    By withdrawing the only means by which some people can actually afford to have children you may not be introducing a one child policy but in practice you are financially doing the same thing. Yes over population I’d problem. The solution is to invest in affordable housing, decent jobs and more school places.

  19. If people can’t afford to have children without child benefit then they shouldn’t have them

  20. H.Hemmelig
    So a married couple both on minimum wage are forbidden from starting a family in your book?

  21. Rivers10 seems to think it’d not reduce the number of children per family unit (or benefit unit in the jargon plus a lot are single mothers).

    Matt W seems to think it’d result in a one child policy in reality.

    Clearly it’d be somewhere in the middle. It’s far too early to tell, as I understand it the cap of 2 children is for those born after April.

    But HH is right re Catholics having larger families, so it’d largely ‘hit’ only around 10% of the population. But apart from around 35 seats such as West Belfast, Bootle, Foyle, and a couple in each of Manc, Lpool, St H, Bham, Newc, Sheffield & London this really wouldn’t affect 80% of the Country who have 1.6 children per unit.

    Bengalis traditionally had 7.8 20 years ago, but that’s now halved. It’s Irish Traveller who have the most (a stereotype but. True on the stats available – sadly not all children are known by their very nature and lack of schooling for some).

    Remember just 13% have almost 40% of the children born today and hence Child Benefit (a staggering statistic Frank Field always amazes people with). No wonder the child poverty stats are as they are.

  22. “Remember just 13% have almost 40% of the children born today and hence Child Benefit (a staggering statistic Frank Field always amazes people with). No wonder the child poverty stats are as they are.”

    It is a staggering statistic. I run my own business and have a comfortable income, too much to receive child benefit. My wife can’t work as I travel every second week. I don’t think we could really afford any more kids than the two we have now. It’s mind boggling how these enormous families manage to stay afloat financially.

  23. H. Hemmelig
    “It’s mind boggling how these enormous families manage to stay afloat financially”

    Many don’t and those that do its pretty much entirely down to child benefit without which they’d be destitute.

  24. Incidentally, I don’t think Field is suggesting Child Benefit encourages them to have more children.

    He’s merely saying restricting it does make them think twice about having a 5th, 6th or 7th.

    CB didn’t of course exist when WWC families had large families in the UK in the 1920s-40s. But they didn’t all live at home into their 20s as many began work at 14 or 15.

  25. If you stop people from claiming after the 2nd kid then you are treating the 3rd child onward as a commodity that is worth less than their sibling.

  26. That already happens though.

    The first child received more in weekly Child Benefit than the 2nd since its creation.

  27. Child Benefit rates:

    £20.70 for the eldest or only child per week.

    £13.70 per week for each additional child.

    In fact, this makes the change even more sensible.

  28. Hillary Benn has been sacked by Jeremy Corbyn.

  29. It seems likely that CORBYN will lose the no confidence vote and carry on. But will it lead to the collection of 50 MPs name to trigger a leadership contest?

    We’re again about to have the debate as to whether the Leader goes on to the election ballot automatically or does he need a certain % of nominations from MPs in order to do so.

    The automatic assumption is if CORBYN is on the ballot then the members will likely vote him in again.

    But is that still the case now. I say that because I believe the overwhelming majority of members were REMAIN voters – even the new ones. And, unfairly imo, he seems to be getting the blame.

  30. That was a nice party we had there once.

  31. That requires him to get on the ballot, which is under some dispute as to whether he would automatically.

  32. A lot of Corbyn’s nominees did it to “widen the debate” and have learned their lesson. He wouldn’t have made it last time if not for them, no reason to suppose he would now.

    The best chance of removing him is to nominate someone on the soft left, a Neil Kinnock figure to ease the party down off the cliff.

  33. Hilary Benn might have a pop, probable Chuka too. There’s too much in common between Benn, Starmer and Jarvis, so I can only see one of them going for it. The Centre of the party should have learned from Burnham and Cooper running on identical platforms and splitting their vote in half.

  34. Tom Watson is not in mould of Jeremy Corbyn.

    The Blairites, by taking out the ineffectual Corbyn, whilst finally destroying themselves would not be a bad outcome for those who of us who are sick of the headbangers at both extremes of the party.

  35. Mrnameless

    Er, it was not a FPTP election.

    I supported Burnham for the leadership, but if you think we would still be in the EU if Corbyn were not leader…dream on.

    I have followed politics since the 1980s; this has been a long time coming.

  36. Wow… surely Corybn can’t fight on in these circumstances…. and the moderates are risking a complete split.

  37. What seems to have spurred Labour into action is the thought of an early election. I’m not convinced this is actually going to happen, but it certainly seems to have induced panic. Under Corbyn they think they’re going to be wiped out. Could happen anyway.

  38. I believe legal advice is sayi g to @jeremycorbyn team that he gets on ballot automatically – that is, he DOES NOT require 20% of LAB MPs.

    Contrary to popular opinion I don’t think he has a huge support anymore within leadership. This will – slowly be apparent to him and Momentum. Obviously this is because of #BREXIT- (massive maj of Labour membership are pro REMAIN. )

    So prediction from me: CORBYN will go by LABOUR Conference.

  39. Some people predicting a split in the party. I don’t see it happening but if it does I’m staying Labour. If we survived ’81 we can survive this.

  40. The Labour Parry was in a far healthier state in 1981 than it is today. Not joking.

  41. Hilary Benn is seeking the chair of the newly-established Brexit Select Committee, according to Jeremy Corbyn on the Andrew Marr Show. Not sure he wanted that information made public…

  42. I think Hilary Benn announced he was seeking it a couple of weeks ago. I presume it has been decided it will be a Labour chair.

  43. MPR,

    I suspct that Hoey and Field will not exactly have the good will of the Labour elite for the rest of their lives, insofar as they ever had it.

  44. Benn has announced he’s standing. Also announced it will be a Labour chair. Given the comfortable pro Remain majority in the House I think it very likely Benn will win.

  45. Could see the likes of Alan Johnson or Chuka Umuna standing as well.

  46. Chukka is standing for Home Affairs, though I reckon Yvette Cooper is more likely to win that.

  47. I think Cooper would be much better for the home affairs select committee job.

    She seems a far more competent and serious person than Chuka.

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