High Street Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 6 December 2021.

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Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:30, 6 December 2021

T8. Mr McGlone asked the Minister for the Economy whether, in relation to the high street scheme, he has considered an extension to the cut-off date, given that there appear to be, certainly from approaches to his office, quite a few people who have not received their card. (AQT 1868/17-22)

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

My focus right now is on dealing with the applications that are outstanding. As I said in an earlier response, 4,500 cards are due to be sent out today. It is incredible that just a couple of hundred shy of 1·4 million cards have been sent out. It is unfortunate that a very, very small number of people have not received their card, but I am doing everything that I can to make sure that they get their card as soon as possible.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Thanks very much, Minister, but have you ruled out the possibility of an extension? Some of the people affected are older and maybe have disabilities. It may not be the easiest thing for them to just turn around the expenditure within a day or two, and we are coming very close to the end of the scheme.

Incidentally, Mr Speaker, with your forbearance, I pay tribute to the staff who have been working at the Department, over weekends and the like, to turn the cards around. I also pay tribute to you, Minister, for your cooperation. I could name some of the staff individually, but that would be inappropriate to the rest of the staff who are working very hard in trying to get the expenditure out the door.

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

That is OK; I can take all the credit, if the Member wants. I appreciate the work that MLAs have done in bringing those cases to our attention. It is in our interests to make sure that everybody gets a card. We will be doing everything that we can to push that on. We will have a better idea tomorrow of where we are on the cards that are still outstanding.