SHOP local - That's the message from the business community and elected representatives with the portal for applications to the High Street Scheme now open.
Applications for the £100 voucher scheme opened on Monday, and will remain open until October 25.
Applicants are being reminded that there will be enough time for everyone to apply, receive and use their Spend Local card.
To register for the card, visit: http://nidirect.gov.uk/spend-local
Encouraging people to support local when they receive their voucher, West Tyrone MP., Órfhlaith Begley said: “The success and longevity of our local towns and villages is dependent on supporting local retailers and businesses.
"The voucher is an opportunity to support our local traders, shops and businesses many of whom, supported our local communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The scheme is about injecting money in to our hard pressed businesses and to assist with the economic recovery from COVID-19."
Ms Begley has also reiterated her call for the voucher to be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds.
"This age group are considered to be of working age and indeed many work in frontline services," she said.
"I will continue to make representations to the Minister to encourage him to extend the voucher to these young people many of whom have been to the fore throughout the pandemic."
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons says the portal is expected to be busy over the coming days.
"That is why it is important to remember that the portal will be open for four weeks and that everyone will have enough time to apply for their card. So please be patient," he said
Applicants are reminded to have their key information to hand when they come to apply.
For verification purposes, all applicants will be asked to provide their name; address; age; gender; disability status; National Insurance number; email address; and telephone number.
Mr Lyons added: “Please ensure that you have all your required information ready when you apply, including your National Insurance number and driving licence if you have one.
"There will be enough time for everyone to apply, receive and use their Spend Local card.
"The applications portal is robust and ready and it will be able to handle over 1.4 million applications over the course of the four-week period.
"But we expect early demand to be extremely high. Therefore, by being patient and ready with your information, you will be helping yourself and everybody else.”
Minister Lyons also warned people to be wary of scams and emphasised that the Department will never ask anyone for their personal banking details.
He said: “Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals who will look for every opportunity to steal from others.
"It is important to state that the Department will never ask for anyone’s personal bank details. Anyone who receives any contact which they think may be a scam should contact Action Fraud.”