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Customers can now buy a regional gift card to show their support for businesses in their community and help to fuel the financial fightback from Covid-19.

‘Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards’ are now available to buy, giving people another way in which to spend with businesses in their communities. Shoppers across the Outer Hebrides can hand a major boost to the region’s economy by backing a ground-breaking local loyalty scheme.

Local businesses have already started signing up to accept the regional Gift Card - with customers now being urged to buy the cards, either to spend themselves or as gifts to others.

And Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Donald Cameron is urging local people to support their local small businesses when shopping for Christmas.

In the run-up to Small Business Saturday, which takes place on Saturday December 4, Mr Cameron said: “Small businesses are the mainstay of our economy here in the Highlands and Islands, and provide livelihoods for thousands of local people.

“It’s right that we should celebrate the contribution that they make on Small Business Saturday, but even better if we extend our thanks by supporting them as we shop for Christmas.

“Local business-people have shown extraordinary resilience throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and for some of them, particularly those in retail, the festive season can be very important.

“So, in making our purchasing decisions, let’s take advantage of the many excellent products and services that are available from local suppliers.”

Councillor Roddie MacKay, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “Our Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is a great new weapon in our fightback from the impact of Covid-19 on our communities. By businesses and customers getting behind it, we will not only provide an immediate injection of cash, but lay the foundations for a stronger future, while highlighting the brilliant businesses we have across the Outer Hebrides.”

Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur said they would help build inclusive and sustainable local economies. He said: “This Scotland Loves Local Gift Card scheme will help support all our communities as they recover from the pandemic. They will bring activity into our towns and neighbourhoods – building wealth in local communities and attracting footfall which is essential for shops and businesses. 

“We know money spent locally is more likely to stay in the local economy and support local jobs. We want to see local communities thrive through a process of positive change, innovation and inclusive economic growth, offering people and communities the quality goods, experiences and services they want.”

The Scottish Government is funding rollout of the cards to encourage people across Scotland to choose to support local businesses - and in so doing, reignite regional economies and fuel the national financial recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Delivered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) - the organisation spearheading the Scotland Loves Local campaign - alongside Perth-based ‘Miconex’, the programme is the first scheme of its scale in Scotland, giving each region an opportunity to launch its own local gift card.

STP Chief Officer Phil Prentice said:“The power of these gift cards is immense, potentially driving millions of pounds into Scotland’s economy. Every shopper can be part of this.

“These cards allow us to think local, choose local and - critically - spend local. They are a quick and easy way of showing our loyalty and locking money into each region’s economy, protecting jobs and helping to make our communities stronger and more sustainable.

“And, with Christmas just around the corner, what better gift than that of supporting local businesses, who have never needed our support more.”

STP and Miconex are working with local authorities to launch the regional gift cards, with the first year of costs being met by the Scottish Government as part of its £10m support for Scotland Loves Local. There are no registration costs for businesses to be a part of their regional Gift Card. Payments are processed as part of the Mastercard network.

Card operator Miconex already supports more than 100 gift card programmes across the UK, Ireland and North America.