The vast majority of small firms believe the increase in fuel duty at the start of the year will cost them up to £2,000 over the next six months.
A poll of more than 400 companies, conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said nine out of 10 expect to have to shell out more as a result of rising prices at the pumps. And while almost all companies are affected, the organisation says small businesses, including many which trade online, are less capable of absorbing the extra costs compared to large enterprises.
Many businesses are now looking for cost-effective ways to send out goods to customers with international shipping companies and cheap delivery firms. Some, however, will feel they have no choice but to increase prices, despite the risk of making themselves uncompetitive.
John Walker, national chairman of the FSB, said: “These figures show that the rise in fuel duty is really having a negative effect on small businesses that actually want to grow, innovate and take on new staff.
“The Government has said it is looking to the private sector to put the economy on a firm footing, but the hike in fuel duty is doing the opposite and hampering small business growth.”