Rural Shop Support Scheme

The Rural Shop Support Scheme helps with the development and diversification of essential rural retail outlets for small communities.

With this scheme, we offer shopkeepers, such as general stores or Post Offices, a comprehensive package of support:

Business counselling

Through this scheme, we offer a confidential retail counselling service to rural shops which will be carried out at the shopkeeper's place of business free of charge. This service offers the opportunity to discuss all aspects of the business and develop plans to improve the business. In some cases specialist consultancy may be available.

Specialist consultancy

Where it appears that the business may benefit from the specialist skills of a consultant (for example to provide marketing advice), we may provide additional grant assistance for this cost on a case by case basis.

Training advice

We can provide specialist training advice covering areas such as identifying training requirements, selecting training methods and information on training providers.

Grants and loans

Under this scheme, we can provide discretionary grants of up to a maximum of £7,500 or 50% of the costs (whichever is the lower). Additionally, loans may be available to assist with some development costs and equipment:

  • Improvements and extensions to the shop layout and fixtures
  • Schemes to improve the image of the shop either internally or externally such as shop fronts, signs, lighting and car parking
  • Promotion of ancillary operations which would help the overall viability of the shop

Please note that:

  • in the event of a change of ownership to the business within a two year period of any award being made, grants and loans awarded will be deemed repayable at the our discretion
  • additional applications will be considered on their merits subject to a qualifying period of two years between applications
  • the minimum award is £1,000

Who can apply

This scheme is intended to support shopkeepers who make a positive effort to maintain the viability of their business where the shop has sound underlying commercial prospects.

Assistance is focused in most cases, on those shops stocking everyday products where the shop provides, or will provide, the sole permanent source of these products in a rural community. The facility does exist to assist with the provision of other products and services (such as a Post Office) where this is considered either socially necessary or which helps the overall viability of the shop.

Consideration will be given in certain circumstances to areas with two outlets where a clear need exists. The scheme is open to individuals intending to open a new shop in an area where no such facility exists. Mobile shops are also eligible for assistance where a substantial part of the business is in rural areas and where they are not in direct competition with another shop.

How to apply

To apply for assistance contact your local economic development officer or email

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