£95m Northern Ireland retail voucher scheme put on hold

Between £50 and £75 per person would have been given out in an effort to stimulate high street spending

A £95m high street voucher scheme, first announced by the Northern Ireland economy minister in November, has been referred to the next financial year, according to the BBC.

The scheme is intended to support retailers that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, possibly through a pre-paid card system.

Similar to what has been seen in Jersey, between £50 and £75 per person would be given out in an effort to stimulate high street spending.

However, due to the continuation of Covid-19 restrictions, any decision to carry out the scheme at this moment in time has been deemed as “clearly not appropriate”.

A spokesperson for the department for the economy told the Belfast Telegraph: “The scheme has been deferred as it is clearly not appropriate to encourage shoppers out onto our high streets given the current situation with the virus and the fact that much retail and hospitality remains closed.”

They added that “it will be for the executive to decide on how the funding is now allocated” instead.

While the plans are initially on hold, Sharon Hetherington, finance director at the department for the economy, has pushed for a larger bid to the executive worth £140m.

Speaking to the economy committee on Wednesday (13 January) she suggested initially using the money to “support the economy through other routes”, before hinting at future “proposals to utilise that money”.

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