There was growing pressure today on Chancellor George Osborne to abandon the Government's controversial 3p-a-litre increase in fuel duty planned for January.

Labour are calling on the Government in a Commons vote this afternoon to delay the tax hike until at least next April, claiming families and businesses are in desperate need of some good news from the Exchequer.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves said: "With our economy so fragile and prices still rising faster than wages, it would be wrong to go ahead with another tax rise on families and businesses.

"To boost our flatlining economy, Labour has already called for a temporary VAT cut which would take 3p off a litre of fuel. But if ministers won't do this, the very least they could do is axe January's fuel duty rise at least until April.

"And they could pay for this by clamping down on known tax avoidance loopholes, like the one used by some employment agencies to falsely inflate expenses."

Labour had hoped some campaigning Tory backbenchers would support its motion and rebel against the Government.

But Robert Halfon MP, who has led the campaign against increasing fuel duty, said he would not vote against the Government until he had seen whether Mr Osborne responds to mounting concerns in the Autumn Statement, due on December 5.

He said: "The cost of fuel is the number one issue, that's why I am campaigning on it. I have had discussions with various people and it is my view that the Government is in strong listening mode.

"If I didn't believe that I would make a point and go in to the lobby with Labour."

The campaign group FairFuelUK previously said it believed the tax hike could will raise only £800 million, compared to Treasury projections that it would bring in £1.5 billion. It could also cost as many as 35,000 jobs, it said.

The group will be campaigning at parliament today ahead of the debate and vote in the Commons.

Its spokesman, broadcaster Quentin Willson, said: "The momentum building up behind FairFuelUK's call to see this damaging 3p rise scrapped is becoming unstoppable.

"The Treasury appears to be listening. We welcome Labour pushing on this issue. Consumers are currently paying an eye-watering 80p-per-litre in combined fuel duty and VAT.

"This is socially unjust and adding another 3p in tax doesn't make sense for economic recovery and deficit reduction."