ALL the main political parties have now launched their General Election manifestos and they make for interesting reading. Not least because all, in their different ways, acknowledge the importance of small businesses and the massive contribution that they make to local, regional and national economies.

After all, with 5.8 million small businesses in the UK representing more than 99 per cent of all business units and employing more than 60 per cent of the private sector workforce, the UK’s future success depends largely upon the success of our burgeoning small business community.

We have welcomed the focus on issues that really affect small businesses – the late payment crisis in the UK, the business rates system and making the apprenticeships more effective and more sustainable. While it is good to see cross-party support for tackling these issues, in some areas the detail is light and the approach needs to be considered carefully, to avoid any ‘unintended consequences’ of poorly thought-through legislation.

With the most recent Federation of Small Businesses research showing that small business confidence is at rock-bottom, the solutions to these persistent problems need to be well designed, effective and implemented as quickly as possible, once the new Government is in power.

To help inform the debate and policy development, FSB has produced its own manifesto – ‘Back to Business’. In it, we call for a renewed focus on the domestic agenda and the issues that need to be addressed to make the UK the best place to set up, grow and succeed in business.

In addition to the issues I have already mentioned, our key recommendations include reducing National Insurance (the jobs tax), helping the self-employed with pensions and mortgages and providing fair access to broadband and mobile across the UK.

So, in fifteen day’s time, whatever the outcome of the General Election, we hope that our elected politicians and influential policy makers will do everything they can to get us all back to business by creating the conditions for growth and prosperity.