Recommendations to the government about helping rural shops remain viable have been welcomed by the industry.

In its report, ‘Rural micro-businesses: what makes some thrive in a challenging economic climate?’ the Commission for Rural Communities urged the government to introduce measures to ensure a level playing field between rural and urban businesses.

These included the introduction of high speed broadband to all rural areas within five years, more engagement by public bodies with formal or informal business associations in these areas and that the National Planning Policy Framework and the Localism Act be properly communicated to rural businesses and communities so they can make best use of it.

It also recommended that research be conducted into how alternative sources of funding are being utilised by rural businesses, with a view to the government providing more support to create awareness of them.

Rural Shops Alliance chief executive Ken Parsons welcomed the report and urged action. “These services are often taken for granted, as the shop may have been there for 100 years or more,” he said. “Nevertheless, in modern trading conditions it is essential that policymakers at Defra and elsewhere do not assume that rural Post Offices and shops can remain viable without some support.”