Applications for Northern Ireland's High Street Voucher scheme are set to close tonight. Today is the last date for those turning 18 to be eligible to apply for a Spend Local card, and both the online portal and telephone service for applications will close today. The GBP100 pre-paid cards are an incentive to get people back on to the high street and to support local businesses after the last 19 months of difficulty due to the pandemic.
The online portal will close for applications at midnight on Monday, October 25, while the telephone service will close at 6pm this evening. This deadline applies to new applications only - it does not apply to those who have been asked to upload further information to verify their identity. Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has issued an appeal to those who haven't yet applied for their Spend Local card.
He said: "There are just hours left for eligible applicants to apply for their GBP100 pre-paid Spend Local card. If you haven't applied, you must do so today. Join the 1.4 million who have already applied.
"I want to see as many eligible applicants as possible receive and use their Spend Local cards and take the opportunity to support thousands of businesses across Northern Ireland. So, please also consider if you have friends or family members who may need help with applying. "Already, local businesses are starting to feel the boost the Spend Local card brings.
However, this is just the beginning and we are continuing to process applications as quickly as possible so more and more people will receive their cards in the coming weeks. "If you have already received - and activated - your card, I would encourage you to Spend Local. Use your GBP100 to help the businesses in your local area that were impacted by the pandemic."
Retail NI's Chief Executive, Glyn Roberts, has also urged customers not to miss out and get their applications in. He added: "The more people that are spending this card with local small businesses improves the chances for the economic recovery of our high streets and local economy" "We are pleased to hear feedback from our members that consumers are spending this card at their businesses in significant numbers.
If we are truly to realise the potential of this card for our high streets and local economy, it is vital that shoppers support local independent retailers and small businesses" Here's everything you need to know if you still need to apply for your pre-paid card worth GBP100, and what you should do if you haven't yet received your card.
What details are needed to apply?
Until midnight on Monday, October 25, you will be able to apply online through the NI Direct website. Until 6pm on this date, you will also be able to apply through the telephone service.
To apply, you will be asked for your:
- National Insurance number
- date of birth
- disability status (specifying if you have a visual impairment)
- email address (this will be pre-populated)
- telephone number
- driving licence number (this is optional but will help speed up the checking process)
How to activate your Spend Local card?
Before using your pre-paid card, you will have to activate it by calling the automated helpline on 02895313153. You will be asked to enter the 16-digit card number on the front of your card, the last four digits of the phone number you provided on registration, and your date of birth. Once you have entered this information, your card will be activated and your PIN number will be revealed.
You will need to remember your PIN, just like any other card, when making purchases. You can also activate your card through SMS by sending the word PIN and the last eight digits of your card number (e.g. PIN 12345678) to 07883294184.
However, at peak times it may take up to 30 minutes for your PIN to be delivered through text.
When should your pre-paid card arrive?
The Department for the Economy have said applicants should receive their Spend Local card within 7-10 days of making their application. They added it will take up to five weeks for all the cards to be delivered, giving everyone a minimum four weeks to spend the GBP100.
What if your application hasn't been verified yet?
Emails to those applicants who could not be automatically verified for a Spend Local card have started to issue. The email will be sent from the same [email protected] that confirmed your application.
The email may be in your junk folder. If this has happened, please move the email into your inbox folder before you access the link to upload your documents. The Department have said that some people may have had difficulties uploading their documents due to the file format but this issue has now been resolved.
If you are continuing to have issues uploading your documents please try a different file format. If applicants have been notified of, or received, an Application Reference Number, (e.g. SLNI 12345678) after they made their application, or if they have received an e-mail confirming their application has been submitted, they can be confident that their application is currently being processed and there's no need for them to reapply or contact the Department.
When do the pre-paid cards expire?
The last date you will be able to use your Spend Local card is Tuesday, November 30.
Members of the public are being asked to use their GBP100 cards before this date to support local businesses in their recovery from lockdown. If you have any further queries about the scheme, email [email protected] or phone 08000 468 333. The phone line is available 24 hours a day.
To get the latest breaking news straight to your inbox, sign up to our free newsletter.