A rallying cry has been issued to parish councils calling on them to safeguard struggling village shops and pubs.

Local government minister Grant Shapps urged UK parish councils to do everything in their power to help floundering businesses, including providing financial support.

“The village shop, pub or post office is often the beating heart of a community,” said Shapps. “So when one is threatened with closure, often for a reason as simple as the shop owner or pub landlord retiring, I would expect the local parish council to pull out all the stops to keep it going.

“Some have done this brilliantly, but many have watched local amenities close when the power to save them was within their grasp,” he added. “This is not about propping up failing businesses; it is often about providing temporary financial assistance or putting new community-run facilities in place, so vital services that people rely on are maintained.”

He also suggested that impending amendments to the Localism Bill will enable councils to offer discretionary business rates discounts for local businesses.

Business rates are set to rise by 5.6% next April, however the Association of Convenience Stores has created a pro forma letter that a retailer can fill out and send to their MP, calling on them to lobby the chancellor to take action to mitigate the increase. The letter can be accessed here.