By Daniel Hunter

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed that the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, will be the first of three senior keynote political speakers at its National Conference and Small Business Expo 2015 in Birmingham on Friday 20 March.

The event marks the most significant opportunity political parties will have to address the business community ahead of the general election in May, and takes place just two days after the Budget. Reflecting the FSB’s growing influence, this will be the first time that its National Conference will be addressed by all three major parties at Senior Cabinet Minister rank or above.

Mr Miliband will have to chance to speak to an audience of almost a thousand small business owners from all over the UK. The Labour Party leader is expected to set out how his party would support small businesses if he were to become the next Prime Minister.

The FSB National Conference is coming to the ICC in Birmingham from 19 — 21 March. It promises to deliver a wide array of seminars, workshops and presentations from the business community and is set to be the largest conference in the FSB’s history.

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ed Miliband to our National Conference in Birmingham. It is a chance for our members to hear what the Labour Party will do for business should they be elected to Government, and what he thinks are the challenges facing the country. We know from our own research that the economic environment is improving for our members - they remain confident about hiring new staff and increasing employees’ wages.

“The Conference is an ideal opportunity for him to address directly small business owners and the self-employed who are such a vital part of the UK economy, and to hear their concerns.

“Ahead of the election we have produced a business manifesto based on feedback from small businesses across the UK. It clearly outlines what the next Government needs to do to support entrepreneurs seeking to start a new business or grow an existing firm. We hope to see many of its recommendations make their way into the manifestos of Parties seeking to form the next Government.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband, said: “I’m really pleased to be able to speak to the small business community at the FSB’s National Conference. Labour knows the majority of British people work in small firms, and that Britain only succeeds when they do. Yet too often, at the moment, small firms cannot get the skills or finance they need to innovate and grow. And they are not receiving the help they need with the costs of doing business, with business rates rising rapidly since 2010.

“A Labour Government will support businesses of all sizes, not just the largest, to help them grow and create better jobs. Labour’s plan offers a better future for business, and for Britain’s prosperity.”

The FSB is expected to confirm senior speakers from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties in the coming days.