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More worries raised about the High Street coronavirus voucher in Northern Ireland – this time about excluding teenage shoppers

A mock-up of the voucher cardA mock-up of the voucher cardA mock-up of the voucher card

Every adult in Northern Ireland will eligible for a GBP100 pre-paid card. To apply, people will have to be 18 before applications close on October 11 and the card has to be spent by November 30. The scheme was devised to help struggling local businesses by giving punters cash to treat themselves to something they wouldn't have otherwise bought.

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But the News Letter has previously pointed out a gaping loophole in the plan: the only requirement is that the money to be spent in some kind of shop, not online - meaning it could just as easily end up subsidising a perfectly healthy multinational as a struggling native business.

Stormont's Economy Committee was given an update on the GBP145m scheme. Department for the Economy official Tommy O'Reilly told the committee that the scheme would launch in September. Committee chairwoman Caoimhe Archibald asked: "We have previously discussed making the card available to 16 and 17-year-olds.

Is that something which is still under consideration? "Obviously there are a lot of young people who may live independently, who may work and who would have National Insurance numbers." Mr O'Reilly said: "The policy is that we are only making the scheme available to those who are 18-plus.

There are clear reasons why we shouldn't be opening it up to those who are under the age of 18 and we have to draw some boundaries around that. "That is where the policy sits at the moment in terms of trying to ensure the scheme can be delivered as efficiently as possible and within the timeframes and within the overall budget. "If we are going to give GBP100 to every adult eligible in Northern Ireland, our most recent estimates from Nisra is that the numbers will be estimated at 1.5 million.

We have only got about GBP140m so there is a very thin margin." Ms Archibald responded: "I would just make the point that 16-year-olds would be considered working age for Nisra. In terms of the intent of the scheme in bringing people back into the shops, that younger cohort has been one of the age groups whose behaviour has most changed because of Covid.

"In terms of bringing a different cohort into businesses, it would benefit to include that age group." Mr O'Reilly said the department had ultimately had to make a decision around the overall policy, adding: "Sixteen and 17-year-olds are not considered as adults. If you go below that, why not 15s?

Why not 14s? We need to draw this boundary somewhere to ensure that we can deliver the economic benefits." "The policy has not finally been nailed down because we are giving our minister some further legal advice around this issue, but that is where the policy stands at this moment."

MLA Claire Sugden said: "Sixteen and 17-year-olds can work, they have a National Insurance number, they can spend. I would be fully supportive of extending it to 16 and 17-year-olds. "If this is about encouraging people to shop in the high street, who better than that age cohort who you would expect to shop online?

I don't understand the department's rationale for not extending it, any of the reasons given at this point don't make sense to me." MLA Stewart Dickson added: "Around the lower age limit, is it likely that a further legal intervention, for example an equality or other claim would delay the scheme?" Mr O'Reilly said he could not answer because he is not legally qualified, but said the department was taking legal advice.

The committee agreed to write to Economy Minister Gordon Lyons to say they support the principle of 16 to 17-year-olds being included, but did not want the current scheme to be delayed. More from the News Letter: A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you. With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers -- and consequently the revenue we receive -- we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

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Mobivity’s Trusted Redemption Technology Awarded Patent from U.S. Patent & Trademark Office | Marketing Dive

PHOENIX --

Mobivity Holdings Corp. (OTCQB: MFON), a global provider of personalized guest engagement solutions that drive customer frequency and spend, today announced that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has awarded Mobivity's Trusted Redemption(TM) technology U.S. Patent 10,949,868, allowing brick and mortar brands to accurately accept and track omnichannel coupon redemptions at the point of sale (POS) without requiring POS system integration. "Generous offers help move the needle with lapsed or infrequent customers, but restaurants and other brick and mortar brands are very cautious with them because ROI can be difficult to track and offer misuse cuts into the bottom line," said Dennis Becker, Mobivity Chairman & CEO. "With our patented redemption technology, Mobivity can assure brands of one-time offer use, with attribution and without the need to be integrated with their POS system."

Available via its SmartMessage(TM) and Unified Offers(TM) solutions, Mobivity's patented Trusted Redemption technology enables marketers to tie every text, email, push notification, broadcast and social media offer and message to an in-store transaction, which enables precise calculation of return on marketing spend. Built-in capabilities for capturing date, time, location and offer in real-time enables a seamless guest experience while providing accurate promotion attribution and preventing coupon fraud and abuse. "Our deep expertise in working with brick-and-mortar brands helped inform the development of this technology which has now tracked more than 50 million redemptions," added Becker. "Brands need to know more than clicks, and our POS-agnostic implementation allows us to stand up a new program in under 90-days."

Mobivity's patented Trusted Redemption technology features:

  • Precise Promotion & Offer Attribution - Marketers are able to tie every message and offer to an in-store or online redemption across every channel and can analyze redemptions nationally, regionally, by market, by franchisee or store.
  • POS-Independent Support - Brands can set up and receive redemption data for every store, regardless of POS provider and platform. The technology supports manual redemption tracking, scannable offer codes and other in-store and online redemptions.
  • Built-In Fraud Protection - A unique landing page link and countdown offer timer plus real-time redemption support for unified creation and management of trackable offer codes enables marketers to personalize offers based on past purchase behavior while ensuring one-time use to minimize unauthorized coupon sharing and redemptions.
  • Support for Advanced Attribution - With the option to add POS data, brands can match the day, time and location of offer redemptions to POS data helping calculate ROI and inform promotion strategies.

Mobivity SmartMessage and Unified Offers with Trusted Redemption technology is a part of Mobivity's highly extensible, enterprise-grade Unified Guest Engagement Platform that can be shared corporate wide and at the local franchise level. To learn more about how Mobivity can put the power of messaging to work for QSR and multi-unit franchise brands, visit mobivity.com/messaging or call (877) 282-7660.

### About Mobivity Brick and mortar stores struggle to manage customer connections in a digital world. Mobivity provides a platform to connect national restaurants, retailers, personal care brands, and their partners with customers to increase retention, visits, and spend.

Mobivity's Recurrency platform increases customer engagement and frequency by capturing detailed POS transaction data, analyzing customer habits, and motivating customers and employees through data-driven messaging applications and rewards.

For more information about Mobivity, visit mobivity.com or call (877) 282-7660.

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Coupons & Offers

Mobivity’s Trusted Redemption™ Technology Awarded Patent from U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

Digital Redemption Technology Delivers Real-Time Offer Attribution and Ensures One-Time Use to Mitigate Coupon Fraud PHOENIX, Aug.

19, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Mobivity Holdings Corp. (OTCQB: MFON), a global provider of personalized guest engagement solutions that drive customer frequency and spend, today announced that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has awarded Mobivity's Trusted Redemption(TM) technology U.S.

Patent 10,949,868, allowing brick and mortar brands to accurately accept and track omnichannel coupon redemptions at the point of sale (POS) without requiring POS system integration.
"Generous offers help move the needle with lapsed or infrequent customers, but restaurants and other brick and mortar brands are very cautious with them because ROI can be difficult to track and offer misuse cuts into the bottom line," said Dennis Becker, Mobivity Chairman & CEO. "With our patented redemption technology, Mobivity can assure brands of one-time offer use, with attribution and without the need to be integrated with their POS system." Available via its SmartMessageTM and Unified Offers(TM) solutions, Mobivity's patented Trusted Redemption technology enables marketers to tie every text, email, push notification, broadcast and social media offer and message to an in-store transaction, which enables precise calculation of return on marketing spend.

Built-in capabilities for capturing date, time, location and offer in real-time enables a seamless guest experience while providing accurate promotion attribution and preventing coupon fraud and abuse. "Our deep expertise in working with brick-and-mortar brands helped inform the development of this technology which has now tracked more than 50 million redemptions," added Becker. "Brands need to know more than clicks, and our POS-agnostic implementation allows us to stand up a new program in under 90-days." Mobivity's patented Trusted Redemption technology features:

Story continues

  • Precise Promotion & Offer Attribution - Marketers are able to tie every message and offer to an in-store or online redemption across every channel and can analyze redemptions nationally, regionally, by market, by franchisee or store.

  • POS-Independent Support - Brands can set up and receive redemption data for every store, regardless of POS provider and platform. The technology supports manual redemption tracking, scannable offer codes and other in-store and online redemptions.

  • Built-In Fraud Protection - A unique landing page link and countdown offer timer plus real-time redemption support for unified creation and management of trackable offer codes enables marketers to personalize offers based on past purchase behavior while ensuring one-time use to minimize unauthorized coupon sharing and redemptions.

  • Support for Advanced Attribution - With the option to add POS data, brands can match the day, time and location of offer redemptions to POS data helping calculate ROI and inform promotion strategies.

Mobivity SmartMessage and Unified Offers with Trusted Redemption technology is a part of Mobivity's highly extensible, enterprise-grade Unified Guest Engagement Platform that can be shared corporate wide and at the local franchise level. To learn more about how Mobivity can put the power of messaging to work for QSR and multi-unit franchise brands, visit mobivity.com/messaging or call (877) 282-7660.

About Mobivity
Brick and mortar stores struggle to manage customer connections in a digital world. Mobivity provides a platform to connect national restaurants, retailers, personal care brands, and their partners with customers to increase retention, visits, and spend. Mobivity's Recurrency platform increases customer engagement and frequency by capturing detailed POS transaction data, analyzing customer habits, and motivating customers and employees through data-driven messaging applications and rewards.

For more information about Mobivity, visit mobivity.com or call (877) 282-7660. Media Contacts:
Meggan Manson o Mobivity PR, Young & Associates
[email protected] o (301) 371-6995 Investor Relations Contacts:
Lisa Brennan o Chief Financial Officer, Mobivity
(877) 282-7660

Brett Maas o Managing Partner, Hayden IR
[email protected] o (646) 536-7331

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Coronavirus vaccine ‘rewards’ including Asda vouchers and Lastminute.com discount

More of the country's best-known businesses will offer rewards to customers who are vaccinated against Covid-19. Asda, lastminute.com, National Express, Free Now taxis and Better leisure centres are among those offering incentives to encourage younger people to get vaccinated. Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo have already said they will offer discounted rides and meals for customers who get a Covid-19 jab, to help boost vaccine uptake.

READ MORE: Dog walker whips pug owner in the face with lead after row erupts in park The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said Asda will offer GBP10 vouchers for their clothing brand George to vaccinated 18 to 30-year-olds who spend over GBP20. The travel company lastminute.com will offer over-18s GBP30 gift cards towards holidays abroad to all young people getting vaccinated through their website.

Better leisure centres will offer over-16s a GBP10 voucher to use on any Better membership and a free three-day pass at any of their 235 leisure facilities across the UK. Taxi app Free Now will provide up to GBP1 million in free rides for over-18s attending their vaccine appointment each way from Sunday until the end of September, while National Express Buses (Midlands) will offer 1,000 people five-day unlimited travel saver tickets which can be used within 90 days. The DHSC said Deliveroo has also revealed further details of their support, which will include thousands of GBP5 vouchers to those who get the vaccine, distributed in the coming weeks.

Bolt will be offering GBP10 vouchers for 10,000 rides from next week in Birmingham and Leicester, and Uber is expected to announce further details around their drive to help students get vaccinated ahead of term time. Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It is fantastic to see more companies backing the phenomenal vaccine rollout and joining the public as they do everything they can to continue protecting their loved ones, themselves, their community and this country." He added: "With over 84,000 lives already saved and 23 million infections prevented by the vaccines, get the jab as soon as possible and take advantage of these excellent offers - whether that's for taxi rides, gym passes, or trips away with family and friends."

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Bolt to offer young people £10 voucher to get Covid vaccine

Young people in Leicester are being offered a GBP10 taxi voucher as part of an incentive to get vaccinated. From next week, taxi service, Bolt, will be offering 10,000 young people the voucher if they go and get the vaccine in both Leicester and Birmingham. This is one of many different deals currently being offered by companies to convince young people to get the jab - in partnership with the government to boost vaccine numbers before an expected rise in cases in the autumn and winter.

READ MORE: Leicester Comedy Festival to publish All Puns Blazing joke book Two thirds of young people have already had the jab, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, but the government is hoping for more people to get vaccinated. Other companies, such as Asda, lastminute.com, National Express, Free Now taxis, and Better Leisure Centres have also announced a number of deals in the coming weeks to help convince people to get a jab.

Uber and Deliveroo are also set to offer different deals to provide discounted lifts and food deliveries, too. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said Asda will offer GBP10 vouchers for their clothing brand George to vaccinated 18 to 30-year-olds who spend over GBP20. The travel company lastminute.com will offer over-18s GBP30 gift cards towards holidays abroad to all young people getting vaccinated through their website.

Better leisure centres will offer over-16s a GBP10 voucher to use on any Better membership and a free three-day pass at any of their 235 leisure facilities across the UK.

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Taxi app Free Now will provide up to GBP1 million in free rides for over-18s attending their vaccine appointment each way from Sunday until the end of September, while National Express Buses (Midlands) will offer 1,000 people five-day unlimited travel saver tickets which can be used within 90 days. The DHSC said Deliveroo has also revealed further details of their support, which will include thousands of GBP5 vouchers to those who get the vaccine, distributed in the coming weeks. Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It is fantastic to see more companies backing the phenomenal vaccine rollout and joining the public as they do everything they can to continue protecting their loved ones, themselves, their community and this country."

He added: "With over 84,000 lives already saved and 23 million infections prevented by the vaccines, get the jab as soon as possible and take advantage of these excellent offers - whether that's for taxi rides, gym passes, or trips away with family and friends."

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Brits offered £30 holiday vouchers and £10 clothes discount for getting jabbed

Fully vaccinated people will no longer need to self isolate from today if someone they meet tests positive for coronavirus - as the young are offered shopping discounts to boost jabs uptake. The legal requirement on jabbed Brits to quarantine for 10 days if they are contacted by Test and Trace has been lifted under a major change of the rules. More than three quarters of adults are now inoculated against the virus and the Government is banking on the success of the vaccine rollout to lift the remaining Covid restrictions.

Boris Johnson faced significant criticism over the so-called pingdemic in July, when thousands of people were forced into isolation due to contacts with positive cases. Businesses sounded the alarm over staffing shortages and empty shelves - prompting the Government into chaotic U-turns over the reducing the sensitivity of the NHS Covid App and allowing key workers to be exempt.

A man receives a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at an NHS Covid-19 vaccination centre hosted at the nightclub Heaven on August 8, 2021 in LondonMore than three quarters of adults are now inoculated against the virus (Getty Images)

Now the blanket self-isolation rules for Covid contacts have been axed for all fully vaccinated people and the under-18s. But ministers are concerned about slow vaccine uptake among the young - with more of the country's best-known businesses offering incentives to encourage them to get the jab.

Asda, lastminute.com and National Express are among firms providing rewards to the jabbed, joining Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo which are already offering discounted rides and meals. Asda will offer GBP10 vouchers for their clothing brand George to 18 to 30-year-olds who spend over GBP20, while lastminute.com is giving over-18s GBP30 gift cards towards holidays abroad. Better leisure centres will offer over-16s a GBP10 voucher to use on any membership and a free three-day pass at any of their 235 leisure facilities across the UK.

Free Now is giving up to GBP1m in free taxi rides for over-18s attending their vaccine appointment while National Express Buses is providing 1,000 people 5-day unlimited travel saver tickets.

Some leisure centres will offer over-16s a GBP10 voucher (file photo of a private centre)Some leisure centres will offer over-16s a GBP10 voucher (file photo of a private centre) (AFP via Getty Images)

Health Secretary Sajid Javid already plans for Covid vaccine booster shots to go to vulnerable groups and over-50s from September. Ministers are said to be discussing plans to the booster shots compulsory for care home staff and quarantine-free travel abroad. They have suggested the "logical" next step would be to make these jabs a condition of keeping a person's vaccine status up-to-date.

It would mean that travel benefits for some double-jabbed Brits - for instance, being spared quarantine on return from amber list countries - may only continue if they get triple-jabbed. Likewise, the requirement for England's care home staff to be double-jabbed from autumn could extend to booster jabs too. Mr Javid said: "The requirement for double-jabbed and under-18s who are contacts of people with Covid has been removed as we cautiously take another step back towards normality, thanks to the phenomenal success of our vaccine rollout.

"Vaccines are what will bring this pandemic to an end - with over 84,000 lives already saved and 23 million infections prevented.

Please come forward to receive your jab as soon as you can to protect yourself and the people around you."

All 16 and 17-year-olds to be offered Covid vaccine by next Monday amid dire warningmirrorBooster vaccines 'could be compulsory' for foreign holidays and care home staffmirror

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Coupon Discounts 2021: Understanding The Basics Of Coupons & Ways To Use Them — Hometown Station

The world of coupons, deals, and discounts is a huge one. People everywhere are looking out for ways to save money and know that the best way is to check out local businesses, use coupons at the grocery stores, or shop online. Many have heard terms like "cash back" or "coupon codes," but many aren't sure what these mean or how they can help you save money.

How can coupon discounts help me?

Coupons provide an immediate discount on a product - usually in the form of cashback rebates either in-store or online (even both!) Cashback offers are great because they offer savings as well as a choice - if you don't like the store offering it, you can shop elsewhere to get the best deal.

Plus, there are tons of online and printable coupons that take a percentage off your price instead, which is just as nice! The Internet has made saving easier than ever before. There are innumerable sites that offer online coupon codes and email alerts to let you know when sales kick in.

Some businesses even have dedicated places for their customers to find these offers (including restaurants, coffee shops, and car rental places). More people than ever come to the web seeking information on products before they buy them: this means that businesses can market directly to customers looking for bargains without having to pass out flyers or invest in advertising campaigns like television commercials.

How do I start using coupons?

The best way to get started with coupons is to sign up for a few websites. You can find online coupon codes that offer cash back at specific stores on the sites' pages, and if you're browsing in your search engine, simply looking up "coupon code" or similar terms will bring up lots of results.

Websites like Savings.com, ShopAtHome.com, and RetailMeNot are especially useful because they have sections dedicated only to local businesses that offer coupons - from restaurants to clothing stores and everything in between! So next time you head out for dinner or buy new clothes, find a site offering discounts before you go and save money without even trying!

How do I use an online coupon code?

Using online coupons can be a bit confusing at first, especially if you're used to taking down the paper versions in-store or clipping out ads for deals. It's more convenient, though: set up an account on your favorite coupon website and enter any promo codes that you find there.

For example you can just search for promo code for walmart and surprisingly you will find many. If it's an online-only discount, all you have to do is click "use code," and it will apply automatically.

How do I search for coupons?

Simply put, coupon searching makes getting discounts as easy as 1-2-3. The first step is to find a coupon by searching online or downloading it from the store's website.

Even better, you can often save even more money with sales and offers like BOGO (buy one get one free) or extra cashback on certain days of the week! After you've found your coupons, you'll want to have them handy when shopping - many stores print out codes on receipts that are good for about a week after purchase, so make sure you check them over before binning that paper. After checkout is where saving counts: double-check your receipt before throwing it away because a lot of businesses will hand out stickers and other things with deals printed directly on them!

Sale

How will coupons affect my credit score?

While using coupons to save on purchases has gotten much easier, some people worry about saving money too much. The good news is that many stores offer rebates and cashback options, so you're not just getting free stuff; your purchases are also returning money through a rebate! So how will this affect your credit score, if at all?

As of today, there is no official ruling by any agency or institution on the topic. You might have heard rumors of an "opt-out" clause for shoppers who don't want their spending tracked for deals - however, these rumors appear to be completely unfounded. If the company selling you something thinks you'll buy it anyway (in other words, they've sized you up as someone who needs to save money), they don't have any reason not to offer you a discount.

How do I get cash back from my purchases?

After you've made a purchase, take a few minutes to visit your store's website.

Look for the "rebates" or "coupons" section of the site and see if any deals are available - even stores that don't give out coupons will often offer rebates that can amount to hundreds of dollars per year, depending on how much you buy from them. The rebate redemption process generally takes less than 10 minutes; log in to their website (using the same username/password you used at checkout), follow the steps, attach copies of your receipt(s) and wait for your check in the mail!

How can I save money with coupons?

Despite what some naysayers say, coupon-clipping is still a great way to save money when it comes to groceries. While you might not be able to use them at every store out there, the ones that do accept them are giving you an easy (and legal) way to cut your grocery bill without having to resort to extreme measures such as going hungry or forgoing dinners out altogether!

While getting discounts on non-food items in stores like Lowe's and Sears can be a little more complicated, hang onto your receipts and look through the "coupon savings" tables they put together from time to time - these can offer serious rebates on purchases that will have you thanking your lucky stars for the coupons!

How do I stay informed?

If you want to be sure you're getting the best possible deals by taking advantage of all of these companies' offers, there's no better way than to bookmark their websites as soon as you can and visit them regularly. This is especially helpful if you like buying things regularly; if you go into your favorite store every week, there's a good chance they'll throw out coupons that are just for you! What's more is that some sites will give you exclusive access to unique deals - for example, if you sign up on a video game site's mailing list, they'll sometimes send out promotional offers that aren't available anywhere else.

Conclusion:

Coupons are a good way to use your money wisely and save some extra cash, but only if you know how to find and apply them!

By bookmarking stores' websites and making a shopping plan that takes advantage of their discounts, you'll be able to get everything you need for much less.

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Breast cancer drug recommended by health officials after discount agreed

A breast cancer drug which was rejected for routine use on the NHS earlier this year has now been recommended by health officials after a discount was agreed with the manufacturer. The decision has been welcomed as "fantastic news" for thousands of women living with an incurable condition who, a charity said, might now have "precious extra months" with their loved ones. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has published draft guidance recommending abemaciclib, given with fulvestrant for hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body in adults who have had endocrine therapy.

In February, Nice decided to provisionally not recommend it for routine use in England, because it had not been found to be a cost-effective use of NHS resources. But the organisation said its latest decision follows an improved patient access scheme from the drug's maker, Eli Lilly, which will offer it at a discounted rate.

Nice said that, along with further economic modelling data provided by the company, abemaciclib - a twice-daily pill also known by the brand name Verzenios - can now be recommended. It is usually priced at GBP2,950 for a packet of 56 tablets, but Nice said Eli Lilly has agreed a confidential NHS discount.

Nice said it had also heard, during consultation, of the value to patients of having abemaciclib as an alternative treatment option with different side-effects. Meindert Boysen, director of the centre for health and technology evaluation at Nice, said drugs like abemaciclib are welcomed by patients with incurable advanced breast cancer "because they can delay the time before their cancer gets worse and so delay or avoid the need for chemotherapy". He said: "The committee also heard from the patient experts that exemestane plus everolimus, the treatment that would normally be used at this stage, was poorly tolerated and used for only a small number of people because it has similar effects to chemotherapy on quality of life.

"We are therefore very pleased to be able to recommend that abemaciclib with fulvestrant can now be provided routinely as another option for people with advanced breast cancer who have already had endocrine therapy." Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at the charity Breast Cancer Now, which worked to urge a reversal of the decision, said the approval is "fantastic news". She said: "Following its worrying provisional rejection by Nice earlier this year, this decision now secures its future use on the NHS, bringing hope to eligible women who could see this combination treatment offer them precious extra months before their disease progresses, and it could even help extend their lives."

She said the drug could help women "have the best quality of life possible in these extra months with side-effects that may be more tolerable for some women than those of other CDK 4/6 inhibitors available on the NHS".

She added: "This treatment can also delay the need to start chemotherapy and enduring its debilitating side-effects."

The decision applies to England and Wales and Nice said its final guidance on the drug will be given in September.

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VisitScotland holiday voucher scheme will bring double benefit

The ScotSpirit holiday voucher scheme will make short breaks affordable for those in need and provide a boost for tourism businesses. The ScotSpirit holiday voucher scheme will make short breaks affordable for those in need and provide a boost for tourism businesses.

VisitScotland is encouraging businesses to sign up to a new voucher scheme to help low income families, unpaid carers and disadvantaged young people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic enjoy a subsidised two-night break in Scotland. Administered on behalf of the Scottish Government, the national tourism organisation's ScotSpirit holiday voucher scheme will deliver GBP1.4 million worth of subsidised breaks by December 2022, and support tourism businesses to recover from the pandemic by stimulating the demand for off-peak domestic breaks and day visits. The project is part of the GBP25 million tourism recovery programme announced by the First Minister in March 2021.

The recovery proposals were developed by VisitScotland and approved by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) in collaboration with members of the Tourism Task Force. The scheme is fully funded by the Scottish Government, and participating businesses will be paid for any booking made directly through the scheme by a method of their choosing. The scheme is open to bed and breakfast, guest houses, hotels, hostels, camping parks and visitor attractions across Scotland.

The project aims to stimulate off-season domestic breaks and day visits, to support the tourism and hospitality sector to recover, following the lifting of final restrictions across Scotland. Working in partnership with several leading charities, Family Holiday Association and Shared Care Scotland, will ensure the vouchers are distributed to people in the greatest need of benefits to their mental health and well-being. The allocation of vouchers will be done through an application process which will start once there are a sufficient number of businesses signed-up to participate.

Details of the application process will be announced at a later date.

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead. VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: "We're encouraging as many tourism businesses as possible to be part of the ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme. Not only will you generate income for your business but you will also provide long lasting memories for people who don't often get to experience a holiday. Tourism is a force for good - creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the well-being of everyone who experiences it.

Tourism makes Scotland richer, economically and socially, and without it Scotland would be a much poorer place."

Scotland's tourism minister Ivan McKee said: "After more than a year of the pandemic, a holiday from the stresses of daily life is something we all look forward to. We pledged to deliver a holiday voucher scheme in the first 100 days of this government and we are delivering. The GBP1.4 million ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme will support many families and unpaid carers who might not have been able to take a break, to take some time out and explore Scotland.

"I would encourage all tourism businesses to get involved with the scheme - not only will you be providing a welcome break for those who need it, but you'll also generate income for your business and stimulate demand during the quieter winter months. "Whether you've got a hotel in the city, a hostel in the countryside or perhaps a B&B on the coast, do get involved and support the ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme, if you can." Accommodation providers, and attractions that are interested in being part of the scheme should visit: www.visitscotland.org/about-us/what-we-do/working-in-partnership/scotspirit-voucher-scheme


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UK-bound BN(O) passport holders to find third of London homes listed for sale available at 20 per cent discount

Lambeth in south London registered the highest proportion of reduced-price stock at 38 per cent.

Photo: Shutterstock Images

It is a good time for Hongkongers moving to the UK under the British National (Overseas) scheme to buy a home in London, with about a third of the homes listed for sale in the UK capital seeing their asking prices fall 20 per cent recently. About 35,000 homes, or 31 per cent of the total 110,780 residential properties listed for sale, saw their prices fall last month, according to property agency Benham and Reeves. "It's a fantastic time for Hong Kong buyers looking to relocate to the capital, and the vast majority will already have an idea of their budget and the areas in which they want to live," said Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham. "Our latest house price index shows that, on average, (some) London homes are selling for around 20 per cent less than the average asking price, so there is always some room for negotiation."

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The UK last year made it easier for 3 million Hongkongers who qualify for a BN(O) passport and their dependents to relocate to Britain and stay and work for extendable periods of 12 months, creating a path to citizenship.

About 123,000 to 153,700 BN(O) passport holders and their dependents were likely to move to the UK in the first year of the scheme, which began accepting applicants in January this year, and between 258,000 and 322,400 are likely to purchase a home there in the next five years, according to estimates by the British government. "The prime central London market has seen discounts of 20 per cent since the height of the market in 2015, and Hongkongers appreciate that discounts are now 'baked in'. And their key consideration is to acquire triple-A grade quality property that will appreciate well when the market returns to growth," said Andrew Weir, CEO of property agency London Central Portfolio.

Lambeth in south London registered the highest proportion of reduced-price stock at 38 per cent, followed by Hammersmith and Fulham with 37 per cent each, and Kensington and Chelsea and Wandsworth, at 36 per cent, according to Benham. Meanwhile, just 18 per cent of homes in Barking and Dagenham have had their asking price reduced, the lowest proportion of all London boroughs or districts. The decline in prices also comes as the UK reimposes at least a 5 per cent tax on property purchases in England and Northern Ireland. The tax was reintroduced last month, officially winding up a stamp duty holiday that began a year ago.

The reinstatement of the tax appeared to have an immediate effect on the property market, with UK home prices growing 7.6 per cent in July, the slowest in four months, according to mortgage lender Halifax. The latest price increase put average property prices at GBP261,221 (US£362,420). About 2,200 homes worth GBP1.1 billion were snapped up between July last year, when the UK announced the BN(O) visa scheme, and April by Hongkongers, according to an estimate by Benham.

So far, more than 34,000 have applied for the right to stay long-term in Britain under the programme, with 7,200 being approved as of May, government data shows. "Some areas such as Stratford, East London and Nine Elms, Central London where there is more stock than there is demand, we are able to negotiate a discount directly from the developer," said Thomas Balashev, the founder and managing director of Montague Real Estate. "Second is the secondary market of new build flat blocks. Because some buyers are incentivised by developers to buy directly it is possible for us to negotiate a discount from sellers directly.

We recently achieved a 16 per cent reduction in the asking price of a flat in Westminster on behalf of an Asian client." At least 30 per cent of the agency's transactions are likely to come from Hongkongers in the next two quarters, he added. For other agents, it is the developers of large schemes that are typically extending discounts.

"Some developers offer larger discounts depending on how well they are selling and in which location," said Mark Elliott, head of international residential at the property consultancy Savills based in Hong Kong. In July, Savills, through its network of offices across the UK, sold GBP21.2 million worth of properties to Hong Kong buyers, bringing its total sales this year so far to GBP109 million. "We expect to sell GBP250 million worth of property to Hongkongers by year end," Elliott said. More Articles from SCMP

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