THE Liberal Democrats as part of the Coalition Government are pivotal in supporting small businesses Middlewich, Northwich and Winsford.

We have negotiated a business rate discount of up to £1,000 for retail premises that includes pubs, cafes, restaurants and charity shops with a rateable value of less than £50,000.

This takes effect in April this year and will run for two years. Businesses specifically excluded include payday lenders, betting shops and pawnbrokers.

We will also provide from next month a temporary reoccupation relief, giving new occupants of previously empty retail premises a 50 per cent discount from business rates for 18 months.

We will also abolish Employer National Insurance contributions for under-21s earning under £813 per week, from April next year. This means that the cost of employing a young person on a salary of £12,000 will fall by £500.

This is in addition to the record over one million young people who have undergone an apprenticeship since the coalition came into office in 2010.

I am proud to be a member of a party that places such an emphasis on helping small businesses. These people who take risks in promoting an idea and taking it to market are the bedrock of our economy. Collectively, they employ large numbers of people and played an invaluable role in helping our country recover from the disastrous economic situation left by the previous Labour government.

Dr Peter Hirst Middlewich