Applicants to the Spend Local voucher scheme still waiting on a response have been assured they will get their GBP100 pre-paid card. ver 1.4m people applied for it before Monday night's deadline. However, many have not heard back almost four weeks after the scheme opened despite being told it would take between seven and 10 days for cards to be issued. With a November 30 deadline to spend money, concerns have been raised those who are yet to have their details verified or receive their card will be left with little time to use it.
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said people who have an application reference number or email confirming their application would not miss out. "You can be assured that your application is being processed, it's just going to take some time before all the cards come out," he told Good Morning Ulster. "We're going to see over the coming days another significant number of cards that will be dispatched.
But I'm pleased at the high take-up of this scheme and the high numbers of people that have spent it already." The Department for the Economy told the Belfast Telegraph 1.17m applicant details had so far been verified and 586,000 cards issued since the scheme opened in September. That means up to 814,000 of the 1.4m applicants are still waiting on their cards.
There are around 234,000 applicants still to be processed but the department said it will continue to work through them "as quickly as possible". It added it hoped the "vast majority" of the outstanding cards will be issued within the next week and it was doing all it could to ensure people had four weeks to spend the money. "If applicants have been notified of, or received, an application reference number after they made their application, or if they have received an email confirming their application has been submitted, they can be confident that their application is currently being processed and there is no need for them to reapply or contact the department," it said.
"If, however, a person is unable to make an application online or is concerned because they did not receive an application reference number or an email they can contact the department's telephone application line to reapply/make a new application. "The number to contact is 0800 046 8330. This line will be open today (Monday), the last day for scheme applications, from 8am to 12 midnight."
Applicants emailing the Spend Local scheme will receive the automated response: "Thank you for your email. If you have received an email confirming that your application has been submitted, please be assured that your application is progressing and there is no need to reapply or contact the department." Retail NI boss Glyn Roberts hopes the administrative issues can be quickly resolved.
He said: "Obviously, with today being the last day to register, it is important to remind people to register, but I think we also do need to address the concerns that are out there with people who have not heard back, who have emailed and done the proper application process."