Small companies in the UK are currently facing an "unstable situation" as a result of high fuel duty and rising world oil prices, an industry body has claimed.

According to the Forum of Private Business (FPB), many firms will see little point in making plans for the future as they are not able to predict when oil prices will stabilise.

The forum’s Phil McCabe said: "FPB members are already reporting adverse effects to their business, saying they are struggling to pay for the inexorable rise in fuel prices."

He added that many firms feel they have no choice but to pass on their increasing costs to the consumer, making them less competitive.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses recently released figures which suggested that rising fuel costs are having a dramatic effect on the UK’s economy.

It was found that nearly 40 per cent of companies surveyed reported they may have to reduce staff numbers over the next year in order to accommodate cost increases.