£100 voucher: About 1,000 applicants find ID 'already used' – BBC NewsDecember 29, 2021
About 1,000 people have not been able to apply for a £100 high street voucher because their National Insurance number has already been used in the scheme.
About 1.4m people in Northern Ireland are eligible to apply to the scheme which is aimed at boosting the economy after Covid-19 lockdowns.
However, a valid National Insurance number is required in order to apply.
A spokesperson for the Department for the Economy said there was "no fault" with its application system.
About 1,000 applicants who entered their number discovered it had already been submitted without their knowledge.
The Department for the Economy confirmed the figure in response to questions from the BBC's Nolan Show.
It is not yet clear if the issue is due to attempted fraud or possibly just human error on the part of applicants who have unwittingly typed in someone else's National Insurance number while trying to enter their own details.
The department said that although a National Insurance number is required for the online system, £100 voucher cards would not be issued "until the applicants' data has been verified".
The spokesperson added that the 1,000 cases affected so far represented "0.1% of total applications to date".
The Nolan Show highlighted the case of one woman who has not yet been able to submit her application because her National Insurance number has already been used to apply for a voucher.
Her husband, Peter, told the programme what happened.
"She tried to apply for the card – went online, gave her email address, got her link back and then you click on the link and put in your National Insurance number," Peter explained.
"A screen popped up and said 'We're sorry but it appears your National Insurance number has been entered already and used by someone else making an application.'
"And that was it, and the only thing she could do about it was to email them [the Department for the Economy]."
Peter said his wife got a response back from her email which just said the department was aware of the issue, but that was the last she has heard.
"She's had no contact whatsoever since she reported it," he added.
In its response, a spokesperson for the Department for the Economy confirmed that about 1,000 members of the public have contacted the department to report that their National Insurance number has already been used and that they are unable to make an application.
They advised that if someone thinks they have this issue they should double-check they are using the correct National Insurance number and, if they are still having access issues, they should email [email protected]
Stormont's High Street Spend Local Scheme opened for online applications on 27 September and will close to new applicants on 25 October.
The £100 voucher cards are in the process of being posted to applicants' homes but they must be spent before 30 November, after which time they will cease to be valid.
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