Every person in Northern Ireland aged 18 and over will be eligible to apply for a pre-paid card worth £100 to spend in their local high street, Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced today.
The gift card will be available to apply for through an online portal, with the voucher only able to be used at brick-and-mortar stores as opposed to online.
The announcement of the voucher scheme comes ahead of retail outlets opening on Friday under the latest easing of Covid 19 restrictions. Dodds revealed further details of the High Street Stimulus (HSS) and Holiday at Home Voucher schemes.
The scheme is designed to stimulate local businesses, including retail and hospitality sector outlets, following the pandemic. The scheme is planned to begin by the end of the summer.
“Today is a day for looking forward. The re-opening of retail outlets alongside outdoor hospitality, self-contained tourism accommodation, swimming pools and gyms under the latest Coronavirus guidelines is another significant milestone as we move out of lockdown,” the Minister said.
“I am excited to see shoppers back in our high streets, customers once again enjoying outdoor hospitality and the return of holidaymakers to self-contained accommodation. I am optimistic because reopening of our economy is the most important first step towards economic recovery.
“However, our High Street Stimulus scheme will provide a timely boost to this recovery. It will provide eligible applicants with a pre-paid card worth £100. This means up to 1.4 million people will spend an extra £140m on our high streets rather than online. This has a multiplier effect which will help bring many more customers back through the doors of local retail, hospitality and other sectors.
“We have commissioned research into when the HSS would be most beneficial to our economic recovery. We expect there will be pent up demand following the easing of restrictions. Therefore we believe that the end of the summer is the appropriate time to deliver this spending boost.”
Holiday at Home
A further ‘Holiday at Home’ scheme will see all Northern Ireland households able to claim back 50% off a stay of two nights or more in certified accommodation, up to the value of £100.
Vouchers will also be issued, offering 50% off visits to attractions or tourism experience providers, up to the value of £20. Vouchers will be allocated on a first come first served basis and each household can apply for one of each type of voucher.
Households can then claim their voucher money back by uploading their receipt and voucher details online. The scheme will be launched in the autumn to drive demand after the summer season.
The Minister went on to say: “My Economic Recovery Action Plan (ERAP) sets out the actions that will enable us to build a more competitive and inclusive economy as we move forward from today. The High Street Stimulus Scheme and the Holiday at Home Schemes are cornerstones of this plan.
“Today is a bright day as Northern Ireland takes another step towards normality, and it is vital that this momentum is maintained. Of course, every one of us can play our part by following the guidance to ensure a safe as well as an enjoyable experience.”