More than a third of small and medium-sized businesses fear record fuel prices are threatening their future, a new survey reveals.
Some 37% felt the soaring cost of petrol and diesel had left the viability of their business in doubt, in a poll of 3,500 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by campaign group FairFuel UK.
It revealed 43% of firms believed high prices at the pump were preventing them investing for growth, while a quarter of companies claimed they could not employ new staff.
Almost 8% said they had to lay off workers due to the cost of fuel.
More than half of SMEs in the poll said they had been forced to raise prices to cope with rising petrol and diesel prices.
FairFuelUK spokesman Quentin Willson said: "UK businesses are howling in pain because of insane fuel costs.
"More than 80% of all goods and freight travel by road and 70% of all business and commuting journeys are by car.
"Why doesn't Westminster understand the irrefutable logic that this country has a road based economy and by burdening businesses with the second highest fuel duty regime in the entire world, they're strangling growth and risking our market competitiveness."
Peter Carroll, founder of FairFuelUK, said: "This is proof positive that adding 3p extra fuel duty in August is insane economics.
"Holding back the SMEs of Britain with record fuel taxes is depriving the Treasury of the one thing it needs to pay down the deficit - economic growth."