A SCHEME which supports people living in rural communities could be expanded.

The Village Agent project is run in 23 villages, including Overton, and is delivered in partnership with Age Concern Hampshire and Hampshire County Council.

It works by volunteer agents helping older and vulnerable residents to access advice and support services.

The scheme is part of a strategy to address issues such as isolation and loneliness, transportation, community resilience, economic development and communications.

At a meeting on Monday, the council’s cabinet discussed expanding the scheme.

Councillor Roy Perry, county council leader, said: “With 85 per cent of Hampshire being rural, we need a strategy that helps rural areas thrive and flourish.

“The population in rural Hampshire is ageing faster than the county as a whole, creating higher demand for our services. Through effective collaboration with our partners, we are ensuring that resource is targeted to where it is needed the most and delivered in the most cost-effective way.

“The County Council provides support to rural communities in various ways; from grants to make village halls more accessible, to helping village shops to expand their businesses, and the invaluable support of village agents in helping more vulnerable residents in our communities.”

The cabinet agreed a budget of £400,000 for 2014/15 for rural initiatives.