Deadline announced for additional documents requested for High Street Scheme applications

Date published: 08 November 2021

All documentation for the manual verification process for the High Street Scheme must be provided by midnight on Friday 12 November.

Clock picture and text which says: Please submit verification documents as soon as possible
Verification documents should be submitted as soon as possible

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons confirmed the new deadline as he revealed over £42million has been spent using Spend Local cards to date.

The 12 November deadline relates only to cases where applications have been unable to be automatically verified against Government databases. Further information has already been requested from these individuals to confirm they live in Northern Ireland and are over 18-years-old.

Minister Lyons said:

“The High Street Scheme is a time-limited intervention and, while I have extended the deadline to use the Spend Local card to 14 December, there is a need for applications to be verified by a certain point in order for the cards to be used.

“I would urge anyone asked to supply additional documents to ensure they do so by the deadline of 12 November.

“My Department is already taking a flexible and pragmatic approach when considering the information applicants have provided to confirm they are eligible for a Spend Local card.

“To date, 94% of applications from people who have provided the additional information requested have now been verified.”

The Minister continued:

“In the closing period of the manual verification we can expect applicants who have struggled to provide the necessary documentation to reach out to MLAs and MPs for their support.

“I have written to all MLAs and MPs to say that if their constituency offices are able to provide assurances on behalf of an applicant that they are eligible for the scheme, these applications can be manually verified by the Department.

“I want to ensure as many Spend Local cards as possible can be put into the Northern Ireland economy to support local businesses.”

Minister Lyons has also welcomed new data on footfall at retail locations compiled by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) and insights firm Sensormatic IQ.

He said:

“I was very pleased to see these figures which shows that footfall at retail locations has significantly improved from September.

“This shows that the High Street Scheme is having the intended effect. I would like to thank retailers for their support in promoting the Spend Local card. I also want to thank the public for the support they are giving to their local high streets.

“For anyone who has any balance left on their card, no matter how small, my message is: please go out and spend it locally.”

Notes to editors: 

1. Where MLA and MP constituency offices are receiving enquiries or drop-ins from applicants that have (a) made a genuine attempt to provide information, (b) there is a clear link between the application and the documents provided and (c) a reasonable level of confidence that the person is eligible, staff can send these details to the Department.

2. Guidance on the verification evidence required and information on the trusted partners for the scheme is available in our FAQs.

3. A press release on the NIRC’s footfall data is available on the NIRC website.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. The Department has issued emails to applicants whose details could not be automatically verified. The email from is legitimate and not a scam. The email asked recipients to upload further information to verify their identity. Everyone who received this email should have uploaded their verification details by now. The Department is currently processing this data.

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

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

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

13. 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.

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

16. 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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