Business leaders across Northern Ireland today reported the continued positive impact on local businesses as Spend Local cards are being widely used by the public.
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has been urging Spend Local cardholders to continue to “spend it now, spend it all and spend it local”.
The Minister said:
“There is no doubt that the benefits of the High Street Scheme Spend Local cards are being felt across the retail, hospitality and service sectors. To those cardholders who have used their card already, I would urge them to check their balance and ensure that they spend the full £100 in their local businesses. It is vital that this money is injected back into our local economy.”
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council Councillor Paul McLean commented on how well the scheme has been received in Mid Ulster.
“The High Street Scheme has been brilliantly welcomed by businesses throughout the Mid Ulster District, with many of them developing creative offerings to encourage people to spend the voucher in their business. The scheme has also brought much needed footfall back into our town centres following a very challenging period.”
Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts has welcomed the extension of the scheme date to 14 December.
“We are receiving very positive feedback from our members that the Spend Local Card is being widely used with them. Clearly shoppers have responded to the calls to support their small traders and we hope this will continue until 14 December.
“The High Street Scheme is an invaluable short term boost for thousands of local independent retailers and we hope to see this support continue beyond the lifetime of the scheme.”
The chair of Enniskillen Business Improvement District (BID), Noelle McAloon, believes the scheme has driven both footfall and spend in the area.
“This scheme was to re-invigorate our towns and from an Enniskillen BID viewpoint we wanted people to re-engage with their high street. Enniskillen BID are excited that the scheme will re-introduce consumers to the benefit of the high level of customer service, care and experience offered on our high street.
“We have worked hard to promote the Spend Local message and we see that it is having a positive impact on footfall and spend. In Enniskillen there are high levels of spending still to be enjoyed from the scheme and our businesses are looking forward to another very busy few weeks before the deadline.”
The Minister concluded:
“Helping our local businesses back on to the road to recovery is a priority for me and this feedback clearly demonstrates strong support across Northern Ireland for our retail, hospitality and service sectors.
“As well as spending local, the public can also support our businesses by shopping safely by wearing a face covering, maintaining social distancing and using contactless payment where possible.”
Cardholders can check their balance, view transaction history, terms and conditions or find answers to frequently asked questions relating to the cards online.
Anyone who made an application for a Spend Local Prepaid Card and has not received any correspondence from the Department should contact the Department at SpendLocalNI@economy-ni.gov.uk and provide their name and National Insurance Number. Please check your in-box (including your junk folder) before contacting the Department. Emails requesting evidence of eligibility were issued on 21 November to applicants whose details have not yet been verified. Anyone who has received an email should use the link provided in the email to submit their evidence - this is the quickest way to get your application approved and receive your Spend Local card.
Anyone who is eligible and was unable to make an application should contact the Department at SpendLocalNI@economy-ni.gov.uk. They should state the reason they were unable to apply and attach evidence of eligibility. Details of the evidence that has to be provided can be found on the Department website.
Evidence must be submitted to the Department by Saturday 27 November at 6pm. The Department is unable to accept any evidence provided after this date.
The High Street Scheme closes on December 14 when the Spend Local pre-paid cards will cease to be valid.
Notes to editors:
1. For verification purposes in order to reduce the risk of fraud and error, each applicant was asked to provide:
- disability status;
- National Insurance number;
- email address; and
- telephone number.
2. Applicants also had the option of including a driving licence number to enable verification. Once the applicant completed the registration process their information was checked against a number of government databases to verify.
3. The Department is required under Section 75 to monitor the implementation of its policies which includes collecting data on age, sex and disability.
4. When an applicant receives their card, they will need to activate 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 opened on 11 October. The later opening of the telephone service was implemented to encourage more people to apply online when the portal opened on 27 September and avoid using the phone line leaving it available for those who did not have access to, or were not able to use, the internet. It closed at 6pm on October 25.
7. The Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan is available on the Department's website.
9. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:
Twitter – @Economy_NI
Facebook – @EconomyNI
Skills to Succeed Facebook – SkillstoSucceedni
Instagram – economy_ni
LinkedIn – Department for the Economy NI
10. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at email@example.com
11. 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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