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Economy Minister Gordon Lyons with the Spend Local card.
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The portal for applications to the High Street Spend Local Scheme is now open and the Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down Council has urged people to help support and promote local businesses across the district. The £145m programme will offer pre-paid cards worth £100 to all over-18s and aims to help those businesses in retail and hospitality which were hit by the pandemic. The High Street Scheme Spend Local pre-paid card will be able to be accepted by shops and businesses which can accept credit and debit cards for payment. It cannot be used to purchase goods or services online.

NMDDC recently launched a new campaign promoting the Council’s ‘Make It Local’ message to help relaunch the unique business offering that the district boasts, as well as stimulate the entrepreneurial resilience of Newry, Mourne and Down.

NMDDC’s Chairperson Cllr Cathy Mason said: “This campaign not only shines a light on the key sectors represented across the district but also highlights how businesses here have worked hard to establish a safe shopping practice in light of Covid-19 regulations.

“It has been a particularly difficult period for our local traders and the voucher scheme is a great initiative that has come at an ideal time as we approach the winter holiday season. The initiative will help boost our local businesses following the drop in footfall and reduced trade brought about by the pandemic.

“Our message is clear; Newry, Mourne and Down is open for business. Our local businesses are outstanding, diverse and resilient. Now is the time to step up and support them by making it local. I would strongly encourage people from within the district to avail of the voucher and shop locally.”

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “This is a big day in the roll-out of the High Street Scheme. I am delighted to announce that the portal for applications for the Spend Local card has now opened.”

The Minister once again reminded applicants that the portal will remain open until 25 October and that there will be enough time for everyone to apply, receive and use their Spend Local card. Applicants can register for their card at NIDIRECT.GOV.UK

He said: “Around 1.4 million people are entitled to apply for their Spend Local card, so we expect the portal to be extremely busy in the first few days. That is why it is important to remember that the portal will be open for four weeks and that everyone will have enough time to apply for their card. So please be patient.”

The Minister reminded applicants to have their key information to hand when they come to apply. For verification purposes, all applicants will be asked to provide their name; address; age; gender; disability status; National Insurance number; email address; and telephone number.

He said: “Please ensure that you have all your required information ready when you apply, including your National Insurance number and driving licence if you have one. There will be enough time for everyone to apply, receive and use their Spend Local card. The applications portal is robust and ready and it will be able to handle over 1.4 million applications over the course of the four-week period. But we expect early demand to be extremely high. Therefore, by being patient and ready with your information, you will be helping yourself and everybody else.”

Minister Lyons also warned people to be wary of scams and emphasised that the Department will never ask anyone for their personal banking details.

He said: “Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals who will look for every opportunity to steal from others. It is important to state that the Department will never ask for anyone’s personal bank details. Anyone who receives any contact which they think may be a scam should contact Action Fraud.”

The High Street Scheme is part of the Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan. Its objective is to boost local businesses following the drop in footfall brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Dates

  • 27 September to 25 October – Applications portal will be open.
  • Week commencing 4 October – First tranche of cards will issue to those who have successfully applied for the Spend Local pre-paid card.
  • 11 October – Telephone service will open to support applications from people not able to access or use the online portal.
  • 25 October – High Street Scheme online portal and telephone services will close.
  • 25 October – The last qualifying date for those turning 18 to be eligible to apply for a Spend Local card.
  • 30 November – High Street Scheme closes and the Spend Local pre-paid cards will cease to be valid.
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