Shoppers should "be patient" when applying for Northern Ireland's high street voucher scheme ahead of applications opening on Monday, Retail NI has warned. To attempt to get your card click here. The retail group said the public should consider making their application later in the week and spreading out demand on the online portal ahead of an expected rush to apply on day one.
Around 1.4million people will be eligible to receive the pre-paid card loaded with GBP100 to spend.
The application window to apply is open until October 25. Anyone over the age of 18 will be eligible to apply for the scheme, with the card able to be spent in "bricks and mortar" businesses which utilise a card machine with swipe and pin facility. The scheme opens for applications on the NI Direct website on Monday, with the last day to apply for the voucher being October 25.
The card cannot be used after November 30. The scheme - which is expected to cost up to GBP145m to roll out across Northern Ireland - is intended to provide a significant autumn boost to the retail and hospitality sector following the damage done by Covid. "If people can wait a few days before making their application, hopefully we can avoid any delays or problems with a rush on the online portal and they will receive their voucher on a timely basis," said Retail NI chief Glyn Roberts.
"With a scheme of this ambition and size we are bound to experience some problems and would urge shoppers to be patient" "As the scheme opens and consumers are thinking about how to spend their voucher, we would strongly encourage them to use with local independent retailers.
70p in every GBP1 pound spent with an independent retailer is recycled around the economy, supporting local producers and manufacturers." Anyone applying for the card is expected to receive it between seven and 10 days later.
Last week, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons urged local businesses across hospitality and retail to "show their support" for the upcoming scheme. The minister encouraged those businesses eligible to display a range of promotional material encouraging shoppers to spend the voucher to support local retailers, along with an advertising campaign that has been rolled out to encourage shoppers to support local businesses. Who can apply?
Anyone over the age of 18 in Northern Ireland will be eligible to apply for the scheme, which will provide a pre-paid card worth GBP100 to be spent in "bricks and mortar" businesses. Around 1.4million people are expected to be eligible. When can I apply?
The scheme opens on September 27 with first applicants receiving the card in the week beginning October 4. It is expected people will receive the card between seven and 10 days of applying. How do I apply and what do I need?
You must register online at the NI Direct website. You will be asked for: name, address, date of birth, gender, disability, National Insurance number, driving licence number (optional), mobile phone number and email address. I'm not online, how do I apply?
For those unable to apply online, a telephone service will be available from October 11. It's going to be busy though? Yes but department officials are keen to stress the portal will be open for four weeks and then everyone will have at least four weeks to spend the money.
What happens after I register? Once registered online you will receive an email for confirmation. Information will be checked against the electoral register database followed by Driver Vehicle Licencing Agency.
This is an automated process with no access to your personal information. Once your identity has been confirmed the details required to complete the process will be sent to the pre-paid card provider and you will receive another email telling you when to expect your card. What if I'm not on the electoral register?
The Department for Economy is working to ensure groups who may not be on the electoral register - such as asylum seekers, people who are homeless or don't have a permanent address - are able to have an application processed. Can I make an application on behalf of another person? Provided you have their permission you can register to complete an application for other people.
How can I use the voucher? The card can be used in machines that include a swipe facility as well as a pin facility. Once you receive your card you will be required to verify it by SMS, phone or on the computer before you are able to use it.
You will be able to use it alongside other forms of payment subject to the merchant's agreement. And what can I spend it on? You can use the card to order and pay over the phone to purchase services from local businesses however you will not be able to purchase online service or products, to pay for financial services or to purchase legal services.
You can't use it for gambling.
How long do I have to spend it?
The last day to apply for the High Street voucher is October 25, while the card cannot be used after November 30.