Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has urged Spend Local card holders to make sure they check the balance left on their cards and to spend every penny of the balance.
Speaking on a visit to The Junction Retail and Leisure Park in Antrim, the Minister said:
“By now, nearly everyone who applied for their Spend Local card has received it. Hundreds of thousands of shoppers have already used theirs in all parts of Northern Ireland. Already we have injected around £90million in much needed-spend into our retail, hospitality and service sectors.
“And it is working. The Northern Retail Consortium has reported that footfall is on the up while PwC recently predicted that spending on the high street will increase this Christmas.”
During his visit, the Minister met with a number of independent traders and heard how they have been benefitting from the High Street Scheme.
The Minister went on to say it is important that every card holder spends every penny on their card because in order to maximise the benefit to those traders hit hardest during the pandemic.
He went on to say:
“Many of you may have spent most of your card, but maybe not all of it. If that is you, why not check your balance on the website?
“You may have a five, ten or even just a couple of pounds left. But if you have some money left, use it. When you are out and about this weekend, support your local coffee shop, newsagent, barbers, taxi driver or anyone who was hit hard during the pandemic. Every penny counts so spend it now, spend it all and spend it local.”
The Minister also reminded card holders that as well as spending local, they can also support businesses through 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 by visiting the DfE Spend Local page.
Notes to editors:
1. Caption: Economy Minister Gordon Lyons with David Millsopp, store manager of Golf Nation at the Junction Retail and Leisure Park in Antrim
2. 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.
3. 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 at the High Street Scheme - assessing eligibility page on the Department's website.
4. Evidence must be submitted to the Department by Saturday 27 November at 6.00pm. The Department is unable to accept any evidence provided after this date.
5. The High Street Scheme closes on December 14 when the Spend Local pre-paid cards will cease to be valid.
6. 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.
7. 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.
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 ERAP website.
14. 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
15. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at email@example.com
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.