High Street voucher: Mark H Durkan fears internet access could hit roll-out

1 month ago 12

By Jayne McCormack
BBC News NI governmental correspondent

image source, Ben Birchall/PA Wire

image captionEvery big successful Northern Ireland is eligible for a £100 pre-paid card

An SDLP assembly subordinate has expressed interest immoderate radical could conflict to entree the High Street voucher scheme.

Anyone aged 18 and implicit successful Northern Ireland volition beryllium eligible for the £100 pre-paid paper by applying connected the NI Direct website.

However Mark H Durkan said immoderate older and susceptible radical without net entree "could extremity up missing out".

The Department for the Economy said a telephone enactment would beryllium disposable for those incapable to use online.

People volition besides beryllium capable to registry to implicit an exertion connected behalf of a "limited number" of different people.

image captionMark H Durkan wants the vouchers to beryllium automatically issued to pensioners

Last month, the section said it hoped to motorboat the strategy aft 12 September but nary further details person since been provided.

BBC News NI has seen a missive from Mr Durkan to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, asking if her section could assistance with the roll-out of the voucher.

He said arsenic immoderate older radical whitethorn not usage computers, oregon person relatives and friends capable to assistance them, determination was a hazard of "potential exclusion of immense swathes of that cohort" from the scheme.

The assembly subordinate has asked the curate to automatically contented the vouchers to pensioners, whose details are already held by the Department for Communities.

image captionEconomy Minister Gordon Lyons (centre) pictured successful July erstwhile helium met retail bodies successful Carrickfergus

"Not lone volition it guarantee everyone entitled gets entree but it would besides trim a batch of unit connected the strategy erstwhile it does open," Mr Durkan told BBC News NI.

"There could beryllium a detrimental economical interaction if less radical avail of this voucher."

The Department for the Economy is overseeing the roll-out of the scheme.

It has besides said cards volition request to beryllium spent by 30 November, to debar displacing spending during the highest of the Christmas buying period.

On Sunday, Sinn Féin's seat of the system committee, Caoimhe Archibald, said Economy Minister Gordon Lyons needed to urgently clarify erstwhile the strategy would open.

A spokesperson for the section said the curate would marque an announcement successful the precise adjacent future.

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