High Street scheme - 'Spend Local' pre-paid card
As part of the Executive’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery programme, if you are resident in Northern Ireland and are aged 18 or over, you are eligible to apply to receive a £100 Spend Local pre-paid card to spend in local businesses across Northern Ireland.
Responsibility for the scheme
The Department for the Economy has responsibility for the policy and operation of this scheme.
Launch of the scheme
Online applications will open on 27 September and close on 25 October. You can apply yourself, or you can arrange for another person to assist you to apply or make an application on your behalf.
How to apply
If you’re eligible, you should apply for your Spend Local pre-paid card via the online portal. This will be faster, easier to use and will help you get your card quicker.
If you cannot apply online or do not have internet access you will be able to apply by telephone. However, this service will only be available two weeks after the launch of the online portal.
You will need to provide the same information for both processes. The telephone service should only be used if you do not have access to or are unable to apply online.
Applying for a Spend Local pre-paid card
You will not need a nidirect account (NIDA) or need to register on nidirect in order to apply for your Spend Local pre-paid card.
Online applications will open on 27 September and close on 25 October. You can apply for yourself, or you can arrange for another person to make an application on your behalf.
However if you arrange for someone else to apply on your behalf you will need to provide them with the details needed. As this means sharing your personal data with them, the person who applies on your behalf should be someone you trust.
You can only do this for a limited number of people such as your parents, siblings or close relatives before the system will reject any further applications from you on behalf of others.
You must not make an application on behalf of anyone else without their express permission.
You will need to log on to the online portal using your email address for security purposes. This will lead to an email being sent to your inbox which you then should click on to bring you back to the online portal. At this point you will be asked to input your national insurance number to bring you onto the application page.
On the application page you will be asked to provide the following items of personal information:
- date of birth
- disability status (specifying if you have a visual impairment)
- email address (this will be pre-populated)
- telephone number
- Driving licence number (this is optional but will help speed up the checking process)
Including a driving licence number will enable checking to take place with the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). The Department for the Economy would encourage you to insert your driving licence number, if you have one, as it will help speed up the checking process.
Telephone applications will open on 11 October and close on 25 October. If you are unable to or cannot access the online portal a telephony service will be available two weeks after the launch of the online portal. This will require you to provide the same personal information to an agent who will make the application on your behalf. More information on the telephony service will be made available in due course.
You can get details about how your personal data is processed by the Department for the Economy at this link: Privacy Notice - High Street Scheme
Receiving the card
Once your information has been verified, your card will be posted to you or to whoever you have applied on behalf of. This could take several weeks as it will take time to process and check the large volume of applications as well as manufacture and issue the cards to everyone who has been verified to receive a card.
If the Department for the Economy is unable to verify the information provided your application will be rejected. If this happens you will be able to submit an appeal against this decision. The details of how to make an appeal will be provided to you at this stage of the process.
Using the pre-paid card
Before using your Spend Local pre-paid card, you will need to activate it through an automated telephone service or by SMS.
The card can be used in the same way as a bank or debit card. It can be used to purchase goods and services in any local business in Northern Ireland that has the capacity to accept card payments. You can use the card in person or by phone.
The first transaction can only be made using a PIN, thereafter by contactless payments.
It is not possible to spend more than the £100 that will be pre-loaded onto the card.
You cannot withdraw cash from an ATM or receive cashback using the card.
There are no fees for the card owner when you use your Spend Local pre-paid card.
The card cannot be used to purchase goods and services online, for gambling or for certain financial and legal services.
Card expiry date
All cards will expire at the end of November 2021. You will not be able to use the card after this date. Any balance remaining on the card after this date will be returned by the card provider to the Department for the Economy.
- 27 September - online portal for applications opens
- 4 October - first Spend Local pre-paid cards issue
- 11 October - telephone service opens for applications
- 25 October - online portal and telephone service for applications closes
- 25 October - the last qualifying date for those turning 18 to be eligible to apply for a Spend Local card
- 30 November - High Street Scheme closes and the Spend Local pre-paid cards will cease to be valid
Frequently Asked Questions
A set of Frequently Asked Questions are available and can be accessed at:
Make sure you keep your card safe and your pin secure.