Village retailers in the south west of England are to get a helping hand from a scheme backed by the South West Regional Development Agency.

Store is the Core will offer help and advice to communities and village retailers to improve their skills and diversify their businesses.

Grants of up to £5,000 will be available for retailers to improve their stores, while villages interested in setting up their own community-run shop could be eligible for grants of up to £20,000.

Community First, the company behind the scheme, has received 40 expressions of interest and a panel will meet on 27 February to allocate funds.