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Shop Local cards ‘deactivated’ hours before spending deadline, claims Stephen Nolan caller

Man’s mum received two cards and found ‘both had pins blocked’

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The cut-off to use the Spend Local card in shops was midnight on Sunday

The cut-off to use the Spend Local card in shops was midnight on Sunday

The cut-off to use the Spend Local card in shops was midnight on Sunday

A Spend Local cardholder who waited weeks before receiving the £100 voucher only to receive two different ones has claimed both had been "deactivated around 36 hours before the spending deadline”.

The cut-off to spend the card in shops was midnight on Sunday after the original deadline had been extended due to a delay in around 10,000 people receiving the cards.

A caller to the Stephen Nolan show on Monday’s Radio Ulster said his mother had attempted to use the cards on Saturday but they had been “blocked” from working.

"Enquiries with the Spend Local contact in England, they came back and said that both cards had been blocked as of early Saturday morning. And they believed they had been blocked by the Shop Local team, as in within the department [of Economy],” he claimed.

The man said he understood the cards’ pins had been blocked because the “scheme was closing”, 36 hours before the deadline.

He revealed that he contacted Sir Jeffrey Donaldson about the issue to which the DUP leader said he would “endeavour” to have the issue resolved.

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Mr Nolan then read out an excerpt of the email, saying: “I [Sir Jeffrey] agree that an immediate investigation should take place into how this happened, and arrangements should be made for your mother, and others, affected by premature blocking of their cards, to have the equivalent sum to spend locally in support of the local economy.”

"The team in England told me yesterday that phones were ringing off the hook with people who had been affected yesterday. They estimated there had been a thousand calls,” he said.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said he had “over 100 queries” about the scheme, and despite attempts made to resolve the issues, it appears the department was “overwhelmed and all we got was a generic response”.

He explained that he was speaking to a friend who had been unable to spend his card, but his wife’s had worked fine, while others had contacted him to say they had yet to receive the vouchers.

Mr McGlone added that he had contacted Mr Lyons personally and had been informed the minister was “currently looking at options of remedy”.

"And I hope he does… because many people that have been in touch could do with the £100,” said the Mid Ulster MLA.

"I think there is a duty of care to those people… That £100 is important to people.”

Another caller said her son’s card, which arrived on Saturday, wouldn’t work, while another man said he had been given a wrong number in a department email on Shop Local in relation to unspent money on the cards.

The Department for the Economy and the DUP have been contacted for comment.


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