Northern Ireland is set to roll out a high street voucher scheme which will give every adult in Northern Ireland £100 on a pre-paid Mastercard for them to spend in shops of their choice. You will be able to apply for the pre-paid Mastercard through an online portal from September 27th 2021 through NI Direct online it will then close on October 25th 2021. Anyone from the age of 18 will be able to apply and applicants will only have a minimum of four weeks to spend their card. The cards will be able to used in all participating businesses in Northern Ireland, they will not be able to be used online or for gambling or some financial and legal services.
To apply for the card the Northern Ireland government had said for verification purposes in order to reduce any risk of fraud and error, each applicant will be asked to provide the following:
- Disability status
- National Insurance Number
- Email address
- Telephone contact number
Applicants may also have the option to include a diving license number to enable verification, once the applicant has finished their application process their information they have provided will be checked against a number of government databases to verify they have provided the correct information and identity. Applicants will then start to receive their spend local card within 7-10 days of making their application.
Once the applicant receives their card they will have to verify the card through a computer-operated online system or a text message and make their first payment using the pin provided before they can use contactless payments.
The Minister said: “Now is the time to get ready to spend local. I am delighted to announce that the online portal will open to receive applications in just under two weeks with the first tranche of spend local pre-paid cards to issue the week beginning 4th of October.” “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 in local high businesses, we will encourage many more customers back through the doors of local retail, hospitality and services.” “I would encourage everyone who is over the age of 18 by 25th October this year, to apply for their card between 27th September and October 25th. 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.” “By applying, receiving and ultimately spending your spend local card in local businesses such as shops, hospitality and other services before November 30th, you will be doing your bit to support your local businesses.”