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Northern Ireland High Street Voucher Scheme making “good progress” as retail prepares to reopen

Northern Ireland’s High Street Voucher Scheme is making “good progress” and will be launched “when it is safe and appropriate”, the Department for the Economy has said.
The scheme was announced last year to help the retail sector in the wake of the cor…

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Northern Ireland's High Street Voucher Scheme is making "good progress" and will be launched "when it is safe and appropriate", the Department for the Economy has said. The scheme was announced last year to help the retail sector in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which saw businesses closed for months at a time. The week before non essential retail prepares to reopen, the Department for the Economy has said the GBP145m High Street Stimulus Scheme and GBP2m Holiday at Home Scheme were "under development by officials and good progress is being made to bring them to fruition".

As part of the High Street scheme, individuals could receive between GBP75 and GBP100 each on pre-paid cards to spend in town and city centres. Both schemes are part of Economy Minister Diane Dodd's Economic Recovery Action Plan. A Department for the Economy spokesperson said: "The Department's Economic Recovery Action Plan (ERAP), published on 25 February, sets out actions that will enable us to build a more competitive and inclusive economy as we recover from the impacts of the pandemic, through investment in skills; stimulating research, development and innovation; promoting investment, trade and exports; and building a greener economy.

"Included in the plan are the High Street Stimulus Scheme and a Holiday at Home Scheme, which will boost demand in our struggling towns, city centres and tourism sector. "The Executive recently committed to provide GBP286.8million in additional funding in order to deliver the actions in the ERAP, including GBP145m for the High Street Stimulus Scheme and GBP2m for the Holiday at Home Scheme. "Both schemes are under development by officials and good progress is being made to bring them to fruition.

The schemes will be launched at a time when it is safe and appropriate to stimulate demand and encourage the public to shop on the high street and use local tourism providers. Full details will be provided in due course." Speaking on Wednesday, Minister Dodds said working together to rebuild Northern Ireland's economy will make it stronger and ensure businesses are resilient, innovative, sustainable and competitive.

She set out the vision at a virtual stakeholder event where she discussed her Department's Economic Recovery Action Plan. It contains 147 actions across four key themes - a greener economy, R&D and innovation, a highly skilled and agile workforce, and investment, trade and exports. Minister Dodds said: "Economic recovery can only be delivered through collaboration and partnership - we must all work together.

"My Economic Recovery Action Plan sets out a range of decisive actions that will help us to deliver a more competitive, inclusive and greener economy - one that will support our people into new and better jobs. "It includes some bold actions such as the High Street Stimulus Scheme and the Tourism Voucher Scheme to help bolster struggling towns and city centres and support the tourism sector, when the time is right. "But what has become increasingly clear, as we have responded to this ongoing pandemic, is that we need to be flexible.

"By listening to you, the people at the coal-face, the industry experts, and our delivery partners we can make sure that the actions set out in the plan are the right ones. We can look to strengthen our plan by identifying what else needs to be done to support Northern Ireland Business and boost our economy. "When we build back we want to build back stronger.

Better. We want our people to develop the skills of the future and our businesses to be resilient, innovative, sustainable and competitive. "I recognise that there is a lot of hard work still to be done and I will continue to work, in partnership with all of you, for the Northern Ireland economy."

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