Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today reminded applicants to the High Street Scheme that the applications portal will be open from 27 September to 25 October and that there will be enough time for everyone to apply, receive and use their Spend Local card.
With around 1.4 million people expected to apply for their Spend Local card, the portal is expected to be extremely busy in the days after it opens next week.
Speaking one week before the portal opens, the Minister said:
“We expect demand for applications for the Spend Local card to be extremely high when the portal opens next Monday as over one million people will be eager to receive and use their Spend Local card.
“That is why it is important to remember that the portal will be open for four weeks and that that everyone will have at least four weeks to spend their card. So please be patient. Help us to successfully manage this process by ensuring that you have all your required information ready when you apply, including your National Insurance number and driving licence if you have one. There will be enough time for everyone to apply, receive and use their Spend Local card."
For verification purpose, all applicants will be asked to provide their name; address; age; gender; disability status; National Insurance number; email address; and telephone number.
The Minister added:
“The applications portal is robust and ready and it will be able to handle over 1.4 million applications over the course of the four-week period. But we expect early demand to be extremely high. Therefore, by being patient and ready with your information, you will be helping yourself and everybody else.”
The High Street Scheme is part of the Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan. Its objective is to boost local businesses following the drop in footfall brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Notes to editors:
1. For verification purposes in order to reduce the risk of fraud and error, each applicant will be asked to provide:
- disability status;
- national insurance number;
- email address; and
- telephone number.
2. Key dates in the rollout of the High Street Scheme
- 27th September to 25th October - Applications portal will be open.
- Week commencing 4th October – First tranche of cards will issue to those who have successfully applied for the Spend Local pre-paid card.
- 11th October – Telephone service will open to support applications from people not able to access or use the online portal.
- 25th October – High Street Scheme online portal and telephone services will close.
- 25th October - the last qualifying date for those turning 18 to be eligible to apply for a Spend Local card.
- 30th November – High Street Scheme closes and the Spend Local pre-paid cards will cease to be valid.
3. From 27th of September to 25th of October, applicants can apply for the Spend Local card through the portal via NI Direct.
Applicants will also have the option of including a driving licence number to enable verification. Once the applicant has completed the registration process their information will be checked against a number of government databases to verify their identity.
4. Applicants should receive their Spend Local card within 7-10 days of making their application. When an applicant receives their card, they will need to verify the card through a computer-operated phone system or text message and make the first payment using a pin, before they can start to use it for contactless payments.
5. The cards can be used in all participating businesses in Northern Ireland. They cannot be used online or for gambling or some financial and legal services.
6. The telephone support service will open on 11th October. The later opening of the telephone service has been implemented to encourage more people to apply online when the portal opens on 27th September and avoid using the phone line leaving it available for those who do not have access to, or are not able to use, the internet.
7. The High Street Scheme Spend Local pre-paid card will be able to be accepted by shops and businesses which can accept credit and debit cards for payment. It cannot be used to purchase goods or services online.
8. The Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan is available at: DfE website - Economic Recovery Action Plan
10. Follow us on Twitter @Economy_NI
11. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
12. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
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