The government is being urged not to raise fuel duty in the forthcoming Budget following speculation that the first increase in a decade is on the cards.

Reports suggest that the plan under consideration is an increase of around 2ppl, although the rise may not be introduced until next year.

However, the RHA said if the tax went up with the rate of inflation then the annual cost of running an HGV would increase by £763.

Instead, the trade association urged the Chancellor to introduce an essential user rebate for haulage, which would cut the duty level to German levels.

The FTA said any increase would damage the economy and not help the country transition to a low-emission economy.

Christopher Snelling, FTA head of UK policy, said: “Rising fuel costs are already threatening the UK’s future business prospects, and as we enter into the post-Brexit period, and with many businesses already facing challenging economic conditions, any tax increase would stoke inflation, add to business costs and threaten the livelihoods of small businesses working with HGVs and vans.

“This year, small businesses will be forced to upgrade their fleets early to meet the government’s clean air zone requirements, at their own cost.

“To penalise them at the same time via a fuel duty increase would be deeply unfair, and unsustainable for many businesses.”

Earlier this month, the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) wrote to the Chancellor saying that a reduction in fuel duty would be “a key stimulant to the post-Brexit economy”.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA, said: “A fuel duty cut would help to stimulate business and investment, and we welcome the fact that it is also being recommended by the main haulage trade associations such as the RHA and the FTA.”