By Jonathan Davies

When the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) kicks off its conference in Birmingham today (Friday, 20 March), small businesses owners across the UK will challenge the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats on how they would back small businesses in the next Parliament.

The Chancellor George Osborne MP, will address the Conference just days after delivering his Budget, as will Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP and Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband MP.

The event marks one of 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.

The speakers will address an audience of almost a thousand small business owners from all over the UK. Each will be expected to say how his party would support small businesses if his party were to be in power following the election.

The FSB National Conference is takes place in the ICC in Birmingham from 19 — 21 March. Alongside the political speakers the Conference will 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: “Small businesses from across the UK will challenge political leaders from the main parties today on what they would do if elected. Small businesses really are the backbone of the UK economy, employing sixty per cent of the UK’s working population. We hope the Chancellor, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition lay out what they would do for this community if returned to Government in May.”

“Ahead of the election we have produced a business manifesto based on feedback from small businesses across the UK. It sets out what the next Government must do to support small businesses from when they are just starting out, to when they are looking to expand and hire even more staff. We hope to see much of its content included in the manifestos of Parties seeking to form the next Government.”

George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “The British economy has come a long way since 2010. The economy is growing, the deficit is down, there are a record number of jobs — and debt as a share of national income is starting to fall. Much of this is down to Britain’s small businesses, who take the risks, create new jobs, invest in their ideas. The success of the British economy is built on the success of their businesses.

“Our long term economic plan has the needs of small business at its heart — from getting public finances under control to reforming employment tribunals. The Budget builds on our record. We have announced a review of business rates, will abolish the annual tax return, and frozen fuel duty. Measures across the country will boost broadband, support apprenticeships, strengthen exports and increase access to finance.