Deadline for using Spend Local cards extended for people whose cards arrived late and for delayed applications
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The scheme, which launched in September and closed at midnight on Sunday 19 December, has provided a much needed economic boost to the retail, hospitality and service sectors. Adults across NI were given £100 credit each to spend on a card.
In a statement, the Department said today that a small proportion of the cards sent in the closing days of the scheme may not have been delivered in time. In addition, a small number of others may not have an opportunity to use their Spend Local Card before the scheme ended on 19 December 2021, it said.
The cards delivered late include cards that have been reissued due to being lost or stolen or faulty and also those who applied late, made errors in their applications or did not respond to requests for information within the scheme’s application and verification time period.
The department said it issued the cards at speed because it wanted to ensure the highest number of people could support local businesses and that it was therefore verifying applications up to the very last minute.
“These card holders will be able to use their cards from 9am on Friday 24 December until 11.59pm on Friday 7 January. The Department will be in direct contact with these applicants with further information today,” it said,
The Department said it has become aware of a technical issue affecting 2,010 cards on the final weekend of the scheme. The vast majority of these cards had less than £5 outstanding balance and 300 cards did have the full balance remaining.
“It is unfortunate that these applicants were not able to support their local businesses, and the Department will also be in contact with these applicants to let them know they can also use their card from Friday 24 December until Friday 7 January 2022.
“The Department appreciates that there may be wider issues affecting applications or the use of cards. Now the scheme has closed, the Department will take stock of the various issues people have faced and consider options for remedy.”
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said the scheme has been “a huge success” which achieved what it set out to do.
He said: “It is clear that the scheme has been very successful. Over 1.4 million pre-paid £100 Spend Local cards were dispatched and we boosted the economy by over £137.5 million. The scheme also received a lot of positive feedback from a wide variety of businesses and organisations across all parts of Northern Ireland.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed the decision to reopen the High Street Voucher scheme for those who had problems using their Spend Local card.
The Sinn Féin Economy spokesperson said: “I had urged the DUP Economy Minister to extend the spending for the High Street Voucher to ensure everyone who was verified for the scheme is able to access their Spend Local card.
“I welcome today’s announcement that the Spend Local scheme will reopen from 09.00 on 24th December to 23.59 on 7th January for those who had problems using card or received it late.
“I am also seeking clarity that those who were verified but didn’t receive cards will get their card issued.”
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