EVERY household in Herefordshire is being offered £15 spending money as part of the county council’s drive to get people shopping locally. 

Free payment cards — pre-loaded with £15 to spend with local and independent traders — are being offered under the council’s Shop Local campaign.

This aims to kickstart the local economy by encouraging residents to spend their money with local producers, retailers and shopkeepers.

It is part of the council’s £6 million bid to kickstart the county’s recovery in the wake of the pandemic. Other measures include free weekend bus travel, a range of activities to encourage people to get active, a Revive and Thrive grants programme to help small and growing businesses and the LoyalFree app to reward local shopping.

Leaflets promoting the Shop Local card will start dropping through letterboxes soon and the council is urging every household to sign up, with a January 31 deadline to apply.

Councillor Ellie Chowns, cabinet member environment and economy said: “Herefordshire’s fabulous local and independent retailers, producers, traders and hospitality sector help make our county the special place we all love, but they‘ve had a particularly tough time during the Covid pandemic.  

“The Shop Local prepaid card will act as a catalyst to help kickstart economic recovery by giving residents an incentive to visit local shops, restaurants and businesses.

“Several studies have shown that money spent at a locally owned business stays in the local economy and continues to strengthen the economic base of that community. 

“By connecting residents with their local shops and traders, we will also help people become more connected to their local community, by meeting new people, discovering new activities, places to visit and groups.

“The run-up to Christmas will be a key period for Herefordshire’s economy – and local and independent traders in particular.”

The card can be handed over the counter at any business that accepts Mastercard, but will only work within Herefordshire. There will be some restrictions relating to things like gambling, dating services, TV subscriptions and alcohol purchase. The cards cannot be used to withdraw money from ATMs.

Retailers don’t need to sign up or take any additional action in order to accept the card.

The council teamed up with Hereford-based tech company allpay to launch the scheme.

To apply, visit herefordshire.gov.uk/shoplocal or call 01432 260027.