Over £1m in free £100 vouchers spent by Northern Irish public in 69 hours this week – but around £138m still to be spent before deadline of November 30

Over £1 million of free spending money was used over the course of just a few days last week, the latest figures show.

By Adam Kula
Friday, 15th October 2021, 5:17 pm
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons advertises the telephone number for applications to the High Street vouchers scheme
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons advertises the telephone number for applications to the High Street vouchers scheme

The scheme opened to applicants 19 days ago, on September 27.

The government then started posting the free £100 voucher cards out to people on Monday, October 4.

Looking closely at the numbers involved shows spending is fast picking up.

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The economy minister Gordon Lyons said in answer to an Assembly written question that, as of noon on Tuesday, October 12, “around £1.14 million has been spent on the Spend Local cards”.

But then today, the latest data from the Department for the Economy showed that, as of 9am on Friday October 15, some £2.25 million had been spent in total.

In other words, £1.11 million was spent in just 69 hours during the week.

However, the ultimate target for spending is about £140 million, with the government aiming to give one of the £100 voucher cards to every adult in Northern Ireland.

As of 9am on Friday, 1.31 million applications for the £100 cards had been received.

Of those, 262,900 had been posted out.

And of those, 98,000 had been activated.

All cards cease to be valid from November 30.

In his answer to the written question, minister Lyons had this message for the purchasing public: “While there has already been an unprecedented response, the online portal and telephone service, which opened [on Tuesday] for those who are unable to or cannot access the online portal, both remain open until October 25.

“I would encourage those who have yet to apply for their Spend Local prepaid card to do so as soon as possible.

“My message to everyone is ‘spend local’. Please use your card to support your local businesses which have been most affected by the Covid-19 restrictions.”

Meanwhile, the NI Statistics and Research Agency today issued fresh weekly statistics for the number of Covid-related deaths.

They say 30 deaths “involving Covid-19” happened during the week October 2 to October 8, taking the running total to 3,512.

This figure is substantially higher than the Department of Health’s figures.

The department says in the past seven days it recorded 25 Covid-linked deaths, taking the total to 2,610.

Its figures show an uptick in deaths over the last few days. Whilst the third big spike of the pandemic peaked at 13 deaths on September 5 before declining to a single death on October 1, in recent days the daily fatality numbers have risen to five per day.

To apply for a card, call 0800 046 8330 or type this link into your browser: shorturl.at/vxCHJ

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