Retailers' representatives have given a lukewarm reception to government proposals to help village shops, contained in its rural White Paper published this week. They complained the measures were too limited and that some did not represent new money as they had been announced earlier. The only new measure contained in the White Paper -- A Fair Deal for Rural England ­ was a proposal to extend the 50% mandatory rate relief for village shops. Currently a shop can only qualify if it is the sole shop in a village where the population is fewer than 3,000, but the White Paper proposes to cover a second or third shop if it can prove the business is of benefit to the community. Other proposals include a £270m investment to revitalise rural post offices, with a pilot scheme to be tested in Leicestershire from next spring involving post offices offering finance, health and community benefits. Sean Carter, spokesman for the Rural Shops Alliance, welcomed the proposals, but said for many any help would be too little, too late. He added: "There are layers of bureaucracy which will involve rural, regional and local bodies, which will deter village shops from applying for what's available. There is a need for a direct communications structure." Carter believed that proposals to invest £270m in the Post Office network was money that was already on the table. He said: "I understand that this money will not be released for another three years, by which time it will be too late for more than 400 rural post offices which, by then, will have closed." Association of Convenience Stores chief executive Trevor Dixon said he welcomed the cash injection for post offices and the proposed reduction in business rates. {{NEWS }}