The scheme, which is designed to stimulate the local economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, was designed to offer £100 prepaid credit-card style vouchers to all adults to spend on the local high street.
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons told the BBC last night that he expects 900,000 to be issued in the coming weeks, with half-a-million having already been awarded.
“If you have received the email to say your details have been verified or saw the Spend Local reference number that came up on your screen when you applied, you can be assured your application is being processed,” said the minister.
Meanwhile, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said people can expect Christmas to be “normal”.
Sajid Javid said no “sensible health secretary across the world would want to predict exactly where we’re going to be in three months’ time, or six months’ time”, as there was a risk of new variants posing a problem.
He told BBC ‘Breakfast’: “For all those people like me that are hoping and planning for a normal Christmas – which I do by the way, I think that’s where we’ll be, we’ll have a normal Christmas – if we want, let’s just keep playing our part.”
Mr Javid said he agreed with the prime minister that people can expect a better Christmas than last year, when lockdown restrictions were in place.
Asked on LBC radio whether he thought Christmas was “safe”, the Cabinet minister added: “I think it is as long as we do what we all need to do – everyone’s got a role to play in this.
“We all want a fantastic Christmas and we can ensure that by getting out there and getting our vaccines.
“There are still some five million people out there that haven’t had a single dose of the vaccine and and we need to basically tell them they need to do that, not just to protect themselves but to protect their loved ones, to do their bit, but also there’s other sensible behaviours that we can all have over the next few months.”
Mr Javid rejected Labour’s call to move to Plan B following mounting pressure over the weekend.