The countdown is on for the launch date of the High Street Voucher Scheme, with the Department for Economy confirming applications for the £100 voucher will open on a date after Sunday September 12, 2021, but an exact date has yet to be confirmed.
A DfE Spokesman said, 'The Department is currently finalising the scheme and the Minister will announce further details - including a date for the opening of registrations – in the near future.'
The voucher scheme is hoped to give a vital boost to business impacted by the pandemic and bring people back into our towns and cities, after a turbulent 18 months for retailers.
Who is eligible for the voucher scheme?
All adults in Northern Ireland over the age of 18 will be eligible to receive a £100 voucher, with the electoral register and other government databases such as DVLA and DfC being used to verify people's details.
In late August some politicians argued for the scheme to be extended to be offered to older teenagers, MLA Claire Sugden said: “16 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.' However, the Department for Economy have confirmed that they will not be extending the age limit of the scheme.
How to apply for the High Street Voucher Scheme
When applications open, to apply for the voucher you must:
Register online on NI Direct. You will be presented with an information page on the High Street Scheme and a button to launch the registration process.
8 pieces of information will be requested during the registration process; Name, Address, DOB, Gender, Disability, NI Number, Driving Licence number (optional) and mobile phone number and email address.
You can register to complete an application on behalf of a limited number of other people, however, you must have their permission and their personal details.
Following completion of the online registration process, you will receive an email confirming the receipt of the application. The information provided will first be checked against the electoral register database followed by the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency. This is an automated process with no access to your personal information.
Once your identity has been confirmed the details required to complete the process will be sent to the pre-paid card provider and you will receive an email to inform you that the registration process is now complete and when you should expect to receive your card.
If you are unsuccessful in the first phase of checks then your identity will be checked against a further suite of government databases. If your identity is confirmed then your details will be forwarded to the pre-paid card provider and you will receive a confirmation email. If your application is unsuccessful, you will be informed and directed to the appeals process.
There will also be a phone application process for those who don't have access to do an online application.
Work is being carried out to ensure groups who may not be on the electoral register, or have a permanent address, are able to apply.
Where can I use my £100 Pre-Paid Card?
A pre-paid card with £100 can be used at any retail business including shops and services such as hairdressers, restaurants and even for home heating oil. There will be some restrictions and the voucher cannot be used online, donated to charity, to pay for financial or legal services or gambling. The full £100 voucher must be spent in full by Tuesday, November 30, 2021.
The launch date for the NI high street voucher scheme has not yet been set, but its launch is much anticipated in households across Northern Ireland.