It’s now just 22 days until the General Election – possibly one of the most important in a generation. So, with important choices and decisions to be made, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has launched it’s Back to Business manifesto.

In it, we call for positive action on a number of fronts, in order to boost our small businesses, high streets and communities.

For example we are asking the next Government to fundamentally reform business rates, by enhancing and making permanent the Retail Discount – which entitles small shops in England to a third off their rates bills. Plus, we are asking for small businesses to be removed from the system altogether. We want to see a reduction in the burden of Employer’s National Insurance Contributions, which effectively serve as a ‘jobs tax’. We also want action to end the scourge of late payment in the UK, which destroys around 50,000 businesses a year.

Infrastructure is another area where improvements have to be made – especially in our Shire Counties and more rural places, which have too often missed out on national investment programmes. Local businesses and communities need local road, rail, internet and mobile phone connectivity that are fit for purpose.

We hope that all of the candidates who stand at this election will listen to, and make every effort to understand, the challenges faced by small firms in the communities they hope to represent.

It’s particularly important now, because our most recent research shows that confidence among the self-employed hit a fresh low last quarter – yet they always seem to be at the back of the queue when it comes to policymaking. This is despite the fact that the number of people in self-employment now equals the number of people employed in the public sector.

With this in mind and whatever the outcome of the election, It really is time for politicians and policy-makers to get back to business.