The final £100 Spend Local cards yet to be delivered will be distributed on Friday and Saturday the Department for the Economy has said, following claims there was “over 4,000” sitting in a Belfast DHL depot.
It was claimed by a caller on BBC Radio Ulster’s Stephen Nolan show that her husband was told by the card distributor, DHL, on Friday, that the vouchers were “sitting in a box in their Belfast depot and they can’t deliver them”.
A spokesperson for the Department for the Economy (DfE) said all Spend Local cards for verified applicants have been dispatched.
“The vast majority of cards being distributed by DHL have already been delivered and the remainder will be delivered today [Friday] and tomorrow,” added the DfE.
DHL Express stated the courier service received a “very large volume” of Spend Local cards “without forewarning”.
“Our team has been working hard to get these out to recipients as quickly as possible and the final deliveries are being made today [Friday] and tomorrow,” said DHL.
It comes after Economy Minister Gordon Lyons urged everyone to cash in on their Spend Local cards before the cut-off date at midnight on Sunday.
UUP MLA Andy Allen has called on Mr Lyons to extend the spending deadline as he has been “inundated” with messages from constituents who have either not received their card or have experienced problems trying to use them.
“I have repeatedly called on the Minister - as it became obvious many weren’t going to receive their cards in time - to extend the spending deadline,” said the East Belfast MLA.
“To date, the Minister has not provided an explanation as to why he will not extend the spending deadline and we are left with the situation where many people have cards they cannot use and many more simply do not know whether they will receive theirs at all.
“It is now obvious that thousands of people will either not receive their cards or have the opportunity to use them.
“Therefore, I am again calling on the Minister to explain how he will ensure those who applied in good faith for their Spend Local card will be identified and provided with a Spend Local card or similar. This is about fairness and he must take action now.”
In a statement on Friday, the DfE said there was a small proportion of cards sent in the closing days of the scheme which may still be in the postal system.
These applications included errors or were from those who did not respond to requests for information in the scheme’s application and verification time period.
The department said it is closely monitoring those cards and will ensure applicants do not miss out due to postal delays, and after the scheme closes, the DfE will listen to the various issues people have faced and look at “options for remedy”.
Over £131m has been injected into the Northern Ireland economy through the High Street Scheme.