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Grant Thornton hosts election hustings for dynamic business leaders...

... to quiz Natalie Bennett, Vince Cable, Matthew Hancock and Chuka Umunna on the business agenda

The UK trade deficit is £34.8bn. All the evidence points to the massive impact that mid-sized businesses (MSB) have on the economy and the reduction of the deficit will be reliant on their growth and success. On 14 April Grant Thornton is convening over 300 business leaders to debate with Natalie Bennett from the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats' Vince Cable, the Conservatives' Matthew Hancock, Labour's Chuka Umunna, and UKIP (tbc) on how senior politicians, responsible for the business agenda, plan to improve the environment for business.

With the election the most open for years and the enormous shift in the political and economic environment that has taken place since the last election, the opportunity for a full exchange of views between dynamic MSB leaders and the politicians, is critical. The event is a chance for business leaders to give their views on the parties' manifestos and discuss what else is needed to fuel UK plc in the global economy.

The debate will be facilitated by Anna Edwards, News Anchor, Bloomberg TV and broadcast live on Bloomberg TV at 8:30am 14 April.

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO-elect, Grant Thornton UK LLP said: "Business is critical to creating a vibrant economy where everyone can participate to the full. The power of the MSB segment is compelling - 35,000 of them contributed £263billion to the UK economy in 2014. They are the fastest growing segment and account for £37.2bn of UK exports. Our work on Agents for Growth has established a live agenda of what government can do to enable a sustainable business environment, and provided a collective voice for these business leaders.

"There's been a sea change in what inhibits that growth - while back in 2009 the top priorities for business were access to capital, bank charges and customer demand, now it's all about the availability of skills and employee turnover. On top of that in a global environment, concerns over market competition are rising. The final one - and maybe the easiest to address - is the burden of regulatory requirements on business. How will the UK set business up to be sustainably competitive in a global economy? Surely for the UK To redress the trade deficit, that is the question that the politicians needs to have an answer to. Get this right and our research shows that mid-sized businesses could add a further £50bn to the economy by 2020 - and that's why creating this session - the only one focussed on this group - is so important."