SDLP Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has called on the public to use their High Street Scheme card to support locally owned independent businesses.
It was announced on Thursday that everyone over the age of 18 in the North will receive a pre-paid card worth £100 to spend on the local high street.
The card will not be able to be used online and the registration process is expected to begin in September.
The Foyle MLA said:
“The High Street Voucher scheme can provide a lifeline to struggling retailers, providing the vouchers are used in the way intended. Many brick and mortar retailers have suffered by being unable to trade normally during the coronavirus pandemic. This additional spend could be of enormous benefit to them - and for some retailers will be the difference between closure and continued business.
“I would encourage people to use this money to support locally owned independent retailers. While I realise this might not be suitable for everyone, these are the businesses who lost out the most during the pandemic, with many being completely closed for long periods of time. I know many of our local businesses are struggling after reopening their doors. Many of these small locally owned businesses contribute so much to life in our local communities and are part of what makes areas unique. Their bespoke offerings also help encourage our tourism trade. If we lose them, they are unlikely to be replaced.
"The vouchers will also be of enormous assistance to those families and individuals who have lost income from the pandemic and are in financial hardship. I know that others who have not experienced financial distress will consider using their vouchers to support local charities or help foodbanks. I have no doubt that these organisations would appreciate it during what could be a difficult winter for many people."