Rachel Woods MLA has responded to the news that the Equality Commission has opened an investigation into the Department of the Economy’s Spend Local Scheme.
The Green Party NI MLA for North Down said: “It’s unfair that 16- and 17-year-olds were excluded from the Spend Local scheme, especially as many of them have worked during the pandemic in low-paid retail or hospitality jobs, and would have benefitted from the ability to participate.
“The Children’s Law Centre has said that the Department of the Economy had failed to carry out an equality screening exercise on the scheme before a complaint was made. I welcome the announcement of an investigation by the Equality Commission to establish if due process was followed. It’s vital that the public can have confidence that the Executive will ensure that equality considerations are of paramount concern in policy-making.
“The Spend Local scheme has had a number of significant flaws, with many of my constituents receiving their cards late, or not at all, and many never having heard back from their queries on the helpline. At the weekend, a number reported that their remaining balance was unable to be used before the midnight deadline. The Minister should provide assurances that no-one will miss out due to delays, and that solutions will be found for those affected.”
Media contact: Jack O’Dwyer-Henry (07504410770)