Northern Ireland to distribute £100 shop vouchers in Covid stimulus

Shoppers walk through Belfast city centre on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2020 as the Province prepares to go into a six week lockdown. (Photo by PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)

Northern Ireland is to give a voucher worth £100 to all adults as a Covid-19 stimulus in the first major scheme of its kind in the UK, the regional executive announced on Friday.

Every person over 18 in the region, approximately 1.4 million people, will be able to apply for a pre-paid card that must be spent in nearby shops or hospitality outlets and can not be used online, Economy Minister Diane Dodds said in a statement.

The scheme will not open until the end of the summer, however as local businesses are expected to enjoy pent-up demand as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in the coming weeks, Dodds said.

“We believe that the end of the summer is the appropriate time to deliver this spending boost,” she said.

The Labour Party in Scotland has promised to introduce a similar scheme with a £75 voucher if it wins a regional election next week.

The British government last year was reported to be considering a voucher stimulus scheme, but instead funded a discount for restaurant diners eating between Monday and Wednesday.