The Scottish Government has set aside £11m of funding to help post offices and small businesses thrive.

It plans to introduce a £10m scheme to support the creation of jobs in small and medium-sized enterprises. It will also re-introduce a second £1m challenge to help post offices diversify by enabling them to offer new services that may not be available locally, such as fresh produce.

The government ran a similar scheme last year which saw 49 small post offices receive offers of awards of up to £25,000.

The initiatives were announced by finance secretary John Swinney as part of a debate on the Scotland’s budget for the next year.

Enterprise minister Jim Mather said the schemes were part of the government’s drive to sustain economic recovery in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government has been working to create an increasingly supportive environment for small businesses,” he said. “As a response to calls to maximise initiatives to support employment growth in the private sector, we will invest a further £10m in a new ‘small business - big job’ programme. It will be focused on encouraging smaller companies to expand their business base and looking to employ more people.

“The £1m diversification fund will help sustain Post Offices which play an integral part in community life, providing services on which many families and local businesses depend,” he added.