Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today announced that the High Street Scheme will be extended by five days to 19 December.
The Minister also urged anyone with any balance left on their £100 Spend Local cards to use it now.
“The High Street Scheme is working well. The benefits are clearly flowing through to our retail, hospitality and services sectors. So far, we have injected £118m into our economy and the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium recently credited the scheme with helping to increase the number of shoppers in Northern Ireland to their highest point so far compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“However, as I have said all along, it is so important that every penny on every card is spent in order to maximise the impact. This is the best way to ensure we support those businesses which were impacted hardest by the pandemic.
“While the vast majority have received and used their cards, not everyone received their cards as early as we would have wished. Therefore in order to offer these applicants more time to maximise the support for our high street businesses, I am extending the deadline to use the Spend Local cards to midnight on 19 December.
The Minister concluded:
“There is now an extra five days to use Spend Local cards and I want to urge everyone to make the most of this extension. Spend it now, spend it all and spend it local.”
There were 1.4 million successful applications to the scheme. Cards have been delivered to 99% of applicants and 10,000 cards are currently out for delivery. The delay in dispatching some cards is due to a number of reasons including: applicants submitting evidence late; errors in applications; late submissions and some applications identified as duplicates before being verified.
The Department has contacted all verified applicants who should have received a card but have not activated it as yet. It is urging all applicants who have not received a card to check their email accounts today and respond before noon tomorrow.
Cardholders can check their balance, view transaction history, terms and conditions or find answers to frequently asked questions relating to the cards by visiting the DfE Spend Local page.
When an applicant receives their card, they must activate it 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.
Notes to editors:
- The High Street Scheme closes at midnight on December 19 when the Spend Local pre-paid cards will cease to be valid.
- The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium research is available on its website - BRC website
- The Department is required under Section 75 to monitor the implementation of its policies which includes collecting data on age, sex and disability.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan is available on the Department's ERAP website.
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