GEORGE Osborne won a positive reaction for a “solid” Budget that experts said would provide help to small businesses and entrepreneurs although some important measures will not apply in Scotland.

With the chancellor claiming he wanted to help “light the fires of enterprise”, the promise of cuts in the rates of key taxes paid by businesses and shareholders went down well.

The Corporation Tax rate is set to fall from the current 20 per cent in stages to reach 17 per cent by 2020. It had been due to fall to 18 per cent then.

While companies will have to wait to feel the full benefit, specialists said small firms would be delighted by the prospect of lower bills.

“Reducing corporation tax to 17 per cent by 2020 will have a transformational effect on startups and scale-ups,” said Jim Duffy, chief executive of the Entrepreneurial Spark programme for early stage firms developed in Scotland.

Mark Houston, managing partner at Johnston Carmichael chartered accountants’ Glasgow office, described the promised rate cut as a very welcome measure.

He said the chancellor had also provided significant encouragement to people to invest in growing businesses by announcing that Capital Gains tax rates will be cut from next month.

The upper rate will fall to 20 per cent from 28 per cent. The basic rate will drop to 10 per cent from 18 per cent.

The existing Entrepreneurs Relief, which limits tax to 10 per cent on qualifying gains, is only available to people who own more than five per cent of firms.

A new 10 per cent tax rate on gains made on long term investments by outsiders in unlisted companies, up to a £10m lifetime maximum, will also make it easier for companies to raise funding.

Mr Houston noted the Budget did not include cuts in payroll taxes or further measures to encourage firms to invest in research and development or new equipment.

However, he said firms would be glad the chancellor froze fuel duty again. Hauliers will be the main beneficiaries but fuel duty impacts across the supply chain.

Andy Willox, Scottish policy convenor of the Federation of Small Businesses said: “The low price of fuel has given our members a real boost and we’re pleased that the chancellor recognises that every penny spent at the pump is money not spent elsewhere.”

He added: “Many of the measures outlined by the chancellor should see smaller firms compete on a more level playing field with their multinational counterparts.”

Mr Osborne promised action to stop overseas suppliers storing goods in Britain and selling them online without paying VAT.

He will limit the amount of interest the largest firms can set against taxable profits to 30 per cent of UK earnings.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “There are elements in this broadly positive budget that look like solid gains for businesses and entrepreneurs in Scotland.”

But she noted firms in Scotland would not benefit from Budget changes to the business rates regime south of the border, which Mr Osborne said would mean 600,000 small firms will pay no business rates at all from April next year. He said business rates reform provided the biggest tax cut for firms in the Budget.

The Chambers of Commerce and FSB said the Scottish Government had to use its authority over the business rates system to ensure firms in the country remained competitive with UK rivals.

“At the next revaluation and before the Chancellor’s measures come into force in 2017, we would encourage the next Scottish Government to review the thresholds of their landmark Small Business Bonus scheme,” said Mr Willox.

The federation described new allowances for online micro-entrepreneurs as interesting noting the tax system should reflect the 21st century economy.

The £1,000 annual allowances will apply to people who sell services online or rent out their homes through the internet.

The chancellor said he would scrap Class 2 National Insurance Contributions for self-employed people from 2018 in a move he reckoned would generate savings worth over £130 annually for “each of Britain’s three million strong army of the self-employed”.