Spend it now, spend it all and spend it local, urges Lyons

Date published: 15 November 2021

With one month to go before the High Street Scheme closes, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today urged all Spend Local cardholders to “spend it now, spend it all and spend it local”.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons

The Minister said:

“To date over 1.3 million Spend Local cards have been dispatched, with over one million activated and in use. Already over £50m has been injected into our retail, hospitality and service sectors and traders have reported a noticeable uplift in footfall.

“These are remarkable figures but we are now entering a vital stage in the High Street Scheme. Cards have now been dispatched to over 1.3 million people. It is vital that these cards are all activated and used.

“I have consistently encouraged all card holders to use their Spend Local cards to support businesses in their local area that have been impacted by the pandemic. I have been hugely encouraged by how the people of Northern Ireland have embraced this message. It is important that this continues.

“With one month to go before the scheme closes on 14 December, my message to anyone who has received, but is yet to use, their Spend Local card is: spend it now. It is so important that we support those businesses that were impacted by restrictions or suffered from the reduced footfall during the pandemic.”

The Minister went on to say that, in order to maximise the benefits to businesses, all cardholders should use the card to its maximum effect by spending the full £100 on the card.

He said:

“For anyone who has some balance left on their card, no matter how small, I urge you to use every penny and spend it locally. And if you also want to spend a little of your own money in your local shop as well to make a bigger purchase, then all the better. Maximise the Spend Local card because every penny spent on our high streets will help.”

The Minister emphasised once again that the objective of the High Street Scheme is to stimulate recovery in our local businesses by encouraging increased spending in bricks and mortar shops rather than online.

He concluded:

“By now, our retail, hospitality and service sectors are starting to feel the benefit of this campaign. As more and more people receive their Spend Local cards daily, I would urge them to activate it as soon as they get it and then spend it now, spend it all and of course, spend it local.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Caption: Economy Minister Gordon Lyons
  2. 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.
  1. 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
  • 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.

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12. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk

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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