Charity Age Concern has urged the government to renew its subsidy for rural post offices when it runs out in March 2008.

A survey carried out by the charity found that 99% of older people in rural areas consider their post office to be a 'lifeline' and would be isolated if it were to close.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: “The government must stop dragging its heels on the future of rural post offices. If it fails to renew the subsidy, thousands of post offices could be forced to close down and thousands more vulnerable older people could be cut off from their local communities.”