A business lobby group has hit out against an advert by HM Revenue & Customs, labelling it "clumsy" and "offensive".

The Federation of Small Businesses has submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority regarding an advertisement in the national press.

The advert - publicising a hotline to report self-employed people who do not pay their taxes - depicts a plumber hiding under a kitchen sink.

The accompanying text, the source of the FSB's complaint, reads: "With your help, we'll make sure self-employed people who don't pay their tax have nowhere to hide . . . . . .".

Simon Sweetman, FSB tax spokesman, said: "We are disappointed that a campaign that could have gained widespread support has instead resorted to a clumsy advert that tars all of the UK's 2.72 million self-employed people with the same brush.

"The vast majority of self-employed people abide by the law and pay their taxes.

"We find it particularly offensive that the implication in the advert is that all self-employed people do not pay their taxes.

"We have therefore complained to the ASA formally and we hope that HMRC will withdraw the advert and rethink their campaign."