All the main parties declare their support for willing entrepreneurs, but small business development is currently crushed under a weight of red tape and regulation.

Shopkeepers complain of spending hours a day on paperwork as they jump through the hoops required in the day-to-day running of their businesses. Burdensome employment rules make businesses wary of expansion.

Labour's pre-election promises go some way to acknowledging how the tide of legislation over the last few years have stifled small businesses, but retailers may decide they have come too late.

Business rates and National Insurance contributions, key bottom-line expenditure, will be among the issues debated in the next few weeks. Among the promises to tempt the temptable are payment referral guarantees, easier access to loans and tax reductions aplenty.
Continuation of the Business Payment Support Service (Time to Pay scheme). So far the scheme has allowed more than 160,000 businesses to delay tax payments 

Deferral of the small companies corporate tax rate, which will remain at 21% until April 2011 l Continuing support for Regional Development Agencies 

A rise in National Insurance contributions, which are set to rise 1% from April 2011 l An increase of the threshold when small firms must pay the main rate of Capital Gains Tax to £2m 

A temporary increase in the level of small business rate relief l Doubling of the annual investment allowance for small businesses to £100,000 l A deal with Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland to lend £41bn to small businesses over the next 12 months. l

A new small business credit adjudicator to ensure that small businesses have access to finance.
A 'one in one out' rule for new regulations l Reverse Labour's 1% rise in National Insurance 

Mandatory sunset clauses (laws which terminate after a set time unless further action is taken) 

Cutting the Small Companies' Corporation Tax rate l Small business rate relief to be made automatic to reduce admin costs and encourage take-up 

Government guarantees used to create more sources of affordable credit l A reduction in the number of forms needed to register a new business 

The simplification of employment law to make it easier to hire people 

A reformation of Regional Development Agencies to create a business-focused force that is more responsive to local needs.
And the rest...
The Lib Dems are also fans of a 'one in, one out' regulations system 

They will also create new mechanisms to provide equity finance to smaller businesses through Local Enterprise Funds 

Reduce employment taxes and 'seek to' reverse Labour's proposed National Insurance rise

Reform business rates "a particularly significant cost for small shops" and make business rate relief automatic 

The Scottish National Party wants a small business bonus scheme which sees local firms pay less in business rates. They will also take steps to reduce red tape.