Businesses call on public to spend it now, spend it all and spend it local

Date published: 18 November 2021

Traders across Northern Ireland today joined Economy Minister Gordon Lyons in urging the High Street Scheme Spend Local card holders to continue to “spend it now, spend it all and spend it local”.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons with a Spend Local card
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons

As the roll out of the £100 High Street Scheme continues, people across Northern Ireland have been supporting businesses by spending local and the benefits have been felt across all regions.

The Minister said:

“We are hearing from those working in the retail, hospitality and service sectors across Northern Ireland that the High Street Scheme is helping to turn their businesses around after the pandemic. But there is ground still to cover until we reach recovery. That is why it is important that everyone spends every last penny on their £100 pre-paid Spend Local card in their local businesses.”

Lorna Pegg is from family owned business Sew’n’Knit in Lisburn which was first established over 30 years ago. They have seen an uplift in customers using their Spend Local cards.

Lorna said:

“I have had a lot of customers using their High Street voucher towards new sewing machines. This is great to see as a sewing machine is a one off purchase.

“There is a buzz in the city centre as people seem to be generally happier when out and about spending their hundred pounds High Street voucher.”

Minister Lyons said it is important that people activate their cards and spend their £100 in full. He emphasised once again that the objective of the scheme is to stimulate recovery in local businesses by spending in bricks and mortar shops rather than online.

Brent Kieran from Edge Hairdressing in Newry has seen customers use their cards more frequently in recent weeks.

He said:

“We have noticed customers using their £100 cards to treat themselves and we hope that in the run up to Christmas this will continue and customers will buy gift vouchers for other people. 

“It’s great to see the buzz in the salon and things feel positive for the rest of the year.”

The scheme closure date is the 14th December. To date over 1.36 million Spend Local cards have been dispatched with over 1.1 million activated and in use.

Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges in Enniskillen are encouraged by the number of customers using their cards across their facilities.

General Manager, David Morrison said:

“As a local family run hotel for 45 years, it is fantastic to see people choosing to use their Spend Local Cards to ‘Make Memories by The Lakes’, guests are using their cards towards a lakeside staycation in our luxury hotel guestrooms as well as our self-catering stay lodges; others are choosing to enjoy lunch and some are enjoying some much needed relaxation with an Elemis treatment at Kalm Spa.

“The scheme has been a welcome pre-Christmas boost to business.”

The Minister concluded:

“It is fantastic to see local businesses benefit from the scheme as the public use their cards on their local high streets, I would urge people to continue spending and supporting local business ahead of the scheme closure date on 14th December.” 

Anyone who applied for a Spend Local Card but has not received any communication from the Department regarding the status of their application should contact

Notes to editors: 

  1. Key dates in the roll-out of the High Street Scheme:
  • 27 September to 25 October - Applications portal open.
  • Week commencing 4 October – First tranche of cards issued to those who successfully applied for the Spend Local pre-paid card.
  • 11 October – Telephone service opened to support applications from people not able to access or use the online portal.
  • 25 October – High Street Scheme online portal and telephone services closed.
  • 25 October - the last qualifying date for those turning 18 to be eligible to apply for a Spend Local card.
  • 12 November – last day for applicants to provide evidence for manual processing.
  • 14 December – High Street Scheme closes and the Spend Local pre-paid cards will cease to be valid.

2. For verification purposes in order to reduce the risk of fraud and error, each applicant was asked to provide:

  • name;
  • address;
  • age;
  • gender;
  • disability status;
  • National Insurance number;
  • email address; and
  • telephone number.

3. 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 their identity.

4. The Department has issued emails to applicants whose details could not be automatically verified. The email asked recipients to upload further information to verify their identity by November 12. The Department is currently processing this data.

5. The Department is required under Section 75 to monitor the implementation of its policies which includes collecting data on age, sex and disability. 

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. The Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan is available on the Department's website.

10. The Department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the Department’s internal records management system. The Department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The Department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.

11. Follow us on Twitter @Economy_NI  

12. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at

13. 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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