The Commissioner has received a small number of complaints about care home residents and is aware of reports in the media about people having difficulty verifying their identity to obtain their Spend Local voucher. The Spend Local voucher was designed to be accessible to all Northern Ireland citizens aged 18 and over, in order to boost our economy, which has suffered as a direct result of Covid.

Responding to the complaints, the Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch said:

“I am disappointed to learn that some people, particularly care home residents, are having difficulty applying for their Spend Local vouchers because of issues around verifying their identity.

“My office has been in direct contact with the Department for the Economy and I have been assured that no one has been rejected for the Spend Local card. I have been told about the range of documents applicants can upload to support their application, including a letter from their care home.

“I am aware that many of these residents may not have the access or the skills to provide all this detail online, so I would urge carers and loved ones to support them through this process if they have permission to do so. I will continue to liaise with the Department to ensure everything is being done so that the voucher is accessible to everyone who is entitled to it.

“Fortunately, any reports of this nature that have been brought to my office, have been resolved through contact with the Department for the Economy. If anyone else finds themselves or a family or friend in a similar predicament, they can contact the Department’s customer services on 0800 046 8330 – lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.”