There was little for small business owners to get excited about, according to David Wilsdon of Farmoor-based Green Accountancy.

He said: "Most of the measure had already been announced by Gordon Brown last year. the most disappointing aspect was was that corporation tax rates will increase from 19 per cent to 20 per cent next year and then 22 per cent in coming years.

"There are some new measures relating to research and development and the small firms loans guarantee but these will take some time to take effect.

"The Chancellor could have done a lot more to encourage small businesses."

Dr Phillip Leo, Head of Innovation Centres at Oxford Innovation, which manages seven innovation centres in the county, said there was not much in the Budget for innovative businesses.

However, he welcomed the review of public-sector contracts, to increase small and medium-size enterprises' share to 30 per cent.

"This could particularly benefit innovative, technology-based businesses, who have much to offer the public sector but do not have the resources to cope with the bureaucratic tendering process."

He welcomed the additional funding for training, but said the capital-gains tax changes would reduce incentives for wealth-creating entrepreneurs. He said the tax changes would hit technology-based companies which needed to offer share options to attract highly-skilled staff.