Northern Ireland's £100 high street shopping voucher scheme to launch this month

By Jonathan McCambridge (PA) & Erin Santillo

Every adult in Northern Ireland will be able to apply for a free high street shopping voucher worth £100 from September 27, Stormont's economy minister has said.

Gordon Lyons said the aim of the £145 million scheme was to boost businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The online application portal will remain open for four weeks. On October 11, a phone service will open for those not able to access the website.

The first tranche of pre-paid cards is set to be issued on October 4.

The cards can be used until November 30, when the scheme closes.

Mr Lyons said: “The objective of the £145 million high street scheme is to boost local businesses following the drop in footfall brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“By giving everyone aged 18 and over in Northern Ireland a pre-paid card worth £100 to spend on local high street businesses, we will encourage many more customers back through the doors of local retail, hospitality and services.

“I would encourage everyone who is over 18 by October 25 this year to apply for their card.

“We expect demand to be high, so please be patient if the online portal is busy just after it opens. It is important to remember that everyone will have at least four weeks to spend their card.”

The minister added: “By applying, receiving and ultimately spending your card with local businesses such as shops, hospitality and other services before November 30, you will be doing your bit to support your local businesses.”

Applicants are asked to apply through the NI Direct website and will be required to provide their name, address, age, gender, disability status, National Insurance number, email address and telephone number.

Information will then be checked against a number of government databases to verify identity.

Simon Hamilton, from the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the scheme.

“It has been an immensely challenging period for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses and this £100 card will give local people the opportunity to actively help those businesses,” he said.

“It is also a great way to support everyone who works in our local shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and other services.

“This scheme will provide a much-needed and very timely boost to those hard-hit sectors and make a massive difference to businesses as we emerge from the pandemic and edge towards recovery.”

For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.


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