Every household in Herefordshire is now able to apply for a prepaid card loaded with £15 to spend, as part of a major campaign to help the county’s local and independent traders.

Herefordshire Council is sending a prepaid card to every one of the county’s 90,000 households which applies for it, as part of its new Shop Local campaign.

The campaign aims to kickstart the local economy by encouraging residents to spend their money with local producers, retailers and shopkeepers whenever they can.

It is part of the council’s £6million programme of work to help the county’s economic and wellbeing recovery in the wake of the pandemic. Other measures include free weekend bus travel, a range of activities to encourage residents 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 prepaid card will start dropping through letterboxes in December and the council is urging every household to apply for its card as quickly as possible, with a 31 January 2022 deadline for applications.

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. We want to encourage everybody to use the card to support locally-based and independent traders, retailers and service providers if possible. 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. By incentivising residents to Shop Local at such an important time, the council hopes to boost overall spend with the local business community both in the run up to Christmas and beyond.”

Residents are reminded that however they choose to spend the funds on their card they should make sure they stay safe from Covid by wearing a mask and keeping their distance in crowded areas, and washing their hands.

To apply, residents can go online at www.herefordshire.gov.uk/shoplocal and fill in the simple form, or anyone not online can call 01432 260027.

The prepaid card can be handed over the counter to make point of sale purchases, but will only work within Herefordshire. You will not be able to use it in places such as off-licences, betting shops, lottery and casinos. A full list of restrictions will be sent with your card.

Retailers don’t need to sign up or take any additional action – the card can be used in any store that accepts Mastercard payments.

The council has teamed up with Hereford-based allpay to produce the prepaid card – keeping its own spending within the county as part of the campaign.