High Streets Spend Local

Northern Ireland retailers have experienced delays with receiving the £100 Spend Local prepaid cards and customers being rejected to receive the cards.

As part of the NI executives Coronavirus recovery programme, local residents in Northern Ireland, aged 18 and over were eligible to apply to receive a £100 Spend Local prepaid card to spend in local businesses across Northern Ireland.

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However because of the online applications and criteria to meet a lot of people have failed to apply for the cards, with many applications failing due to the verification process.

As reported by The Belfast Telegraph, 100,000 people whose details failed to be verified automatically have been contacted to complete their application process to get the £100 cards. Those who have been contacted by email have seven days to complete the process, with some people receiving emails asking them to upload documentary evidence to support the application.

A spokesperson from The Department for the Economy shared with The Belfast Telegraph that the emails requesting more verification are genuine.

“You have seven days from receipt of the email to complete the verification required. This applies only to those people who have received the email.”

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Eugene Diamond of Diamond’s Newsagents in County Antrim in Northern Ireland shared with betterRetailing.com that he has noticed that a lot of people have been rejected and been told they do not reach the criteria to receive one of the voucher cards.

“I spoke to a lady this morning who lives with her elderly mother and her severely disabled brother she told me she had received notification yesterday that none of them were successful in their application for High Street cards. Sadly she said she won’t apply again. Everyone deserves to apply and be eligible for these cards, so I think it is quite sad that this has happened, and no reasoning was given.

“I think the elderly are the biggest group who have lost out on the cards for failing to apply as they are not able to complete the online applications. I think the process was too complicated for older people to do it online.” he said.

Northern Ireland retailer Judith Mercer of Spar Greenway in Belfast told betterRetailing.com that she has not received any payments with the cards and that a lot of people have not received the cards yet.

“I really believe we will not see a massive amount of cards being used, I feel like if people do they will just use it for a big purchase like on a pair of trainers rather than spending it in a convenience store.”

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Retailers are concerned over the delay in people receiving the cards as they are only valued until the end of November.

Mercer said: “My one query is that we have only until November to spend them, I hope we will get an extension of the end date for using the cards as a lot of people myself included have not received the cards yet.”

Key dates

  • 25 October – online portal and telephone service for applications closes
  • 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 prepaid cards will cease to be valid

A comment request has been sent out to NI direct government services regarding this issue.

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