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NI high street voucher: Almost 5,000 still waiting for card ahead of next week’s spend deadline

Almost 5,000 people are still waiting to receive their £100 Spend Local card just a week before the deadline to use it.

The Department for the Economy confirmed around 4,700 people who were verified are due to receive their cards this week.

Around £145m was allocated to the pre-paid cards, granting everyone over the age of 18 £100 to spend in bricks and mortar retailers in a bid to boost the high street.

There is one week left to use the card before the December 14 deadline, with £116 million having been spent in the local economy using the card according to the department.

Any money which has not been spent before 14 December will be returned to the Department for the Economy.

They also said around 3,500 verified applicants are being re-issued their cards after advising they had not arrived.

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The deadline to use the card was extended by two weeks at the start of November after tens of thousands were still awaiting verification on the system.

A Department for the Economy spokesperson said: "Most people will have had at least four weeks to spend their card and every effort is being made to ensure everyone who was verified receives their card and has enough time to spend it.

"Around 4,700 people who were verified are due to receive their cards this week. A further 4,000 verified applicants are being re-issued with new cards through next-day delivery as they told us their cards did not arrive.

"Other emails received by the Department are still being checked to see if they relate to verified applications.

"Over £116 million has been injected into the local economy so far as a result of this scheme. Encouraging figures from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium have also shown that footfall on our high streets has significantly improved compared to other areas of the UK.

"The Department encourages everyone to fully spend their card right up to the scheme closing date."

On Monday it was officially confirmed by Economy Minister Gordon Lyons that a £100 tourist voucher scheme has been scrapped.

He said the Executive had not given its support to the 50% discount off a two-night stay in a local accommodation, after his departmental officials found it would not provide value for money.

Mr Lyons said he had urged the Executive to consider backing the scheme despite the value for money concerns, arguing it would have provided a “significant economic boost” to the struggling tourism and hospitality sector.

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