Demand for North’s Covid Voucher Program Causes Website Difficulty
Buyers were urged not to “rush immediately” to apply for the Northern Ireland voucher program, after the website struggled on the first morning.
The £ 145million (€ 170million) High Street Stimulus scheme will see all people over the age of 18 eligible for a £ 100 prepaid card to spend on Main Street, aimed at supporting local businesses devastated by Covid.
But when the program opened on Monday, a number of people took to social media to complain that they were having difficulty applying for the card on the NI Direct site.
Some said the site crashed, while others did not immediately receive a verification email after entering their details.
A spokesperson for the Northern Economy Ministry said: “The website is currently experiencing some challenges related to high demand.
“We are working quickly to resolve this issue, but we have always known that the demand for the Spend Local card would be extremely high, which is why we are giving people four weeks to apply.
“Please be patient, there is plenty of time for everyone to request, receive and use their card.”
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said the application portal will be open until October 25, so it was not necessary for everyone to register on the first morning.
He told the BBC: “Today is another step on the road to economic recovery and building a healthy economy, which is a key goal for me in this department and this program is a big one. part.
“I encourage people to remember that it is open until October 25, so not everyone has to rush at the same time, there is a card available for everyone who is eligible and i ‘So would encourage people to apply for it over the next few weeks and, of course, spend it locally in the businesses that were most affected during the restriction period.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before, 1.5 million people are eligible to apply for the card right now and we always expected there to be huge demand, this is a popular program for individuals and businesses.
“I don’t think everyone is going to apply today. I think people will find that they have until October 25, but during times when there is a huge demand, that guarantee is in place so that the website can continue to function.
He added: “I want to help the companies in particular that have been affected by the restrictions and blockages that were in place. It means local, it is local spending and spending in retailers and hospitality, but also in entertainment and recreation. “
All applicants will be asked to provide their name, address, age, gender, disability status, national insurance number, email address and telephone number.
The application portal will remain open until October 25, with the first cards arriving by post in the week of October 4. The cards will be valid until November 30.
Retail NI urged shoppers to consider applying later in the week to reduce pressure on the online portal.
Group Managing Director Glyn Roberts said, “If people can wait a few days to apply, we hope to avoid any delays or issues with a rush to the online portal and they will receive their voucher in a timely manner.
“With a program of this ambition and size, we are inevitably going to run into problems and we urge buyers to be patient. “- PA