A GIFT card initiative being rolled out across Glasgow is hoping to help low-income households and support local businesses.
Supporters say the £105 gift card being distributed to 85,000 homes across Glasgow will boost the economy while helping families cope with the rising cost of living.
The alliance behind the Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Card is confident that the initiative will prove to be worth many millions of pounds more than the £8.85m being loaded onto cards for low-income households to spend with local businesses.
One week on from the stimulus scheme being approved by Glasgow City Council, a Scottish Government Minister is among those praising the power of the project to not only provide support to people but boost local business too.
Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, heard about the social and economic ambitions as he met Glasgow City Council Leader Councillor Susan Aitken and Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) Chief Officer Phil Prentice.
Funding for the project has come via a £9.45m Covid Economic Recovery Funding package awarded to the council by the Scottish Government.
Distribution through the gift card will lock that money into the Glasgow economy, helping businesses recover from the pandemic.
There are currently 780 businesses in Glasgow currently registered to accept the gift cards, with more being encouraged to register and benefit.
Mr McKee said: “This scheme is supported by £9m Scottish Government funding to boost economic recovery from the pandemic.
“The national Scotland Loves Local programme encourages people to think, choose and spend locally – retaining income in businesses and communities.
“The Scottish Government is supporting our communities to deliver renewed local prosperity.”
Data from the council tax system is being used to identify households entitled to Council Tax Reduction (CTR).
This will be used to identify the households eligible to receive the pre-paid gift card.
The cards will be distributed later this summer.
Councillor Aitken said: “The 85,000 cards that we’ll soon be sending out will deliver a real double benefit for communities across Glasgow.
“They will give extra spending power to lower-income households, right across the city, at a time when they are facing the worst pressures in decades.
“But, they will also deliver a much-needed economic stimulus and a real boost to local businesses in our high streets, while they are still recovering from the covid pandemic.
“I think there is also a real, longer-term incentive for businesses to sign up to the scheme and for Glaswegians to shop local.”
As well as being used as a means to disburse funds, the Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Card is available for anyone to buy and spend with city businesses registered to accept them.
Companies are also being encouraged to embrace them as corporate rewards to support other local enterprises.
And STP, the organisation spearheading the Scotland Loves Local campaign, believes this mass availability makes the card a discreet way in which to support families.
Mr Prentice said: “Not only will this help people across Glasgow with the rising cost of living, but it will provide a significant injection into the city’s economy, generating trade for local businesses and supporting jobs.
“The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card allows people to spend with dignity.
“Recipients can use their Glasgow Gift Card to buy food, clothes, or other household essentials to help their family.
“Anyone could have given someone one of these cards. There’s no stigma attached to them.
“The council should be commended for recognising the innovative power of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card by using it this way.
“It highlights the versatility of the card as a local currency. Money spent locally stays local for longer.”
A similar disbursement scheme in East Ayrshire – launched by East Ayrshire Council and Kilmarnock Business Association in response to the Covid-19 pandemic – was credited with delivering the dual benefit of supporting lower income homes and boosting the local economy.
Cards will be sent directly to eligible households, with no application process.
To reduce the risk of theft, the cards will require activation via an individualised authentication process, details of which will be sent with the cards.