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A new scheme providing consumers with vouchers to spend with local retailers is among the latest support announced by the Northern Ireland Executive.

The £218m business support package follows last week’s announcement that Northern Ireland will enter a new two-week circuit breaker lockdown from this Friday.

The voucher scheme will give all households around £200 as a pre-paid card to support traders in their area. Finance minister Conor Murphy said the initiative will launch in early 2021, as it will take around six weeks to set up.

Frank McAllister, owner of Woodvale Costcutter in North Belfast, welcomed the announcement. He said: “I think it’s a good thing and it will help us out. The area I’m in is a deprived area, so people will be in need of it.”

Membership services manager Gwen Patterson added: “Details are still to be finalised, but this will be an incentive for consumers to spend the money in local independent retail businesses. It aims to increase consumer confidence and help revitalise the high street.”

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