86,531 applications for £100 High Street voucher in Derry/Strabane but time is running out

There have been 86,531 verified applications for the £100 High Street voucher scheme in Derry and Strabane to date, according to the Department of the Economy.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:34 pm

That amounts to eight per cent of the 1,085,016 applications across the north.

The scheme opened for online applications on September 27 and for telephone applications on October 11, 2021.

Its purpose, according to the Department, is to boost economic activity by providing every person in the north, aged 18 and over, with a pre-paid Spend Local card worth £100 to spend in local businesses.

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Tens of thousands have applied for the cards in Derry/Strabane.

Figures released today show 1,077,384 (99 per cent) of applications were made online and 7,632 (1 per cent) were made by telephone.

The online portal and accompanying telephony service will close on Monday, October 25, after which it will no longer be possible to apply for the £100 pre-paid Spend Local card.

The Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: "The response to the High Street Scheme has been magnificent and our retail, hospitality and service sectors are now starting to feel the benefit of the extra spend that it brings. With just days left before the portal closes, around 90 per cent of those eligible have applied for their Spend Local card.

“I would appeal to those people who have yet to apply for their pre-paid £100 Spend Local card to do so now through the online portal on nidirect.

“By applying for, receiving and spending your card you will be supporting your local shops, hospitality and other services which have been most affected by economic impact of COVID-19.”

New figures released today show that up until October 15, out of 1,085,016 verified applications, 573,026 (53 per cent) were from females and 511,990 (47 per cent) were from males.

Of the 1,085,016 verified applications, 947,085 (87 per cent) were from persons without a disability and 137,931 (13 per cent) were from persons with a disability.

Of the 1,085,016 verified applications, 278,609 (26 per cent) were from those aged 18-34, 277,834 (26 per cent) were from those aged 35-49, 288,166 (27 per cent) were from those aged 50-64 and 240,407 (22 per cent) were from those aged 65 and over.

The number of verified applications ranged from 180,682 (17 per cent) in Belfast Local Government District to 64,056 (6 per cent) in Fermanagh and Omagh Local Government District.

The Department has also released data on take-up which shows that up to October 15 there was a 74 per cent take-up rate of verified applications for the High Street Scheme compared to the population aged 18 and over.

80 per cent of females and 68 per cent of males had applied and been verified for the Spend Local card.

87 per cent of verified applications for the Spend Local card were from persons without a disability and 13 per cent were from persons with a disability. This compares to an estimate of 28 per cent for the prevalence of disability in the population*.

69 per cent of those aged 18-34 had applied and been verified for the Spend Local card compared to 76 per cent of those aged 35-49, 77 per cent of those aged 50-64 and 73 per cent of those aged 65 and over.

The take–up rate was highest (79 per cent) in both Antrim and Newtownabbey and Ards and North Down Local Government Districts and lowest (68 per cent) in Belfast Local Government District.

The Spend Local card can be used to purchase goods and services in businesses within the north that have the facility to accept card payments.

However, it cannot be used for online purchases, gambling or for financial and legal purposes. The card may be used for numerous transactions but limited to a maximum spend of £100.

When an applicant receives their card, they will need to verify the card through a computer-operated phone system or text message and make the first payment using a personal identification number (PIN), before they can start to use it for contactless payments.

Spend Local cards can be used in all participating businesses in Northern Ireland up until the 30 of November. They cannot be used online or for gambling or some financial and legal services.

Minister Lyons said: “With just days left before the portal closes, my message to those yet to apply for their Spend Local card is: apply now, spend local.”

The online portal will close at midnight on October 25. The telephony service will close at 6pm the same day