Aberdeenshire Council has confirmed that £1.33 million is being invested in the Scotland Loves Local Aberdeenshire Gift Card.

The scheme will support households in Aberdeenshire with the challenges around the cost of living and is being financed by the Scottish Government’s Local Authority Covid Economic Recovery Fund (LACER).

More than 11,300 households in receipt of Council Tax Reduction will initially receive a £100 pre-paid gift card later this month, with the remaining funds being used to provide additional financial support for those who need it most.

It will also provide a much-needed boost for those businesses signed up to the gift card scheme, particularly as they recover from the Covid pandemic.

Currently around 200 businesses are already enjoying the benefits of the initiative, ranging from clothing retailers to convenience stores, food outlets to health and wellbeing services and the council is actively promoting the scheme to shops, services and attractions in villages and towns across the region.

The gift card can be used in any of the participating stores across Aberdeenshire and can also be used online at participating retailers, provided that retailer has a physical presence in the region.

You can view all participating Aberdeenshire businesses here: https://scotlandgiftslocal.com/product/aberdeenshire-gift-card/

A letter with an activation code will be issued to households from today (Thurs, Feb 16) followed by a second letter containing the gift cards a week later. Cards must be activated within 3 months of receipt and recipients will have 12 months from the date of activation to spend the full gift card balance.

Each household in receipt of Council Tax Reduction as of 1st September 2022 is eligible and households who apply for and receive Council Tax Reduction on or after 2nd September 2022 are not eligible. Households which meet the criteria will be notified directly and you will not be required to contact us to apply for this card.

There is no limit to the number of transactions or shops the card can be used in, as long as there are funds on the card. The instructions on how to check the balance on the gift card are written on the reverse of the card.

There is no restriction on the type of goods which can be bought using the card other than the standard age-restricted products which apply to any purchases.

Businesses can find out more about the card and the process and you don’t need to install any software or additional hardware to accept the gift card.

Welcoming the initiative, Council Leader Cllr Mark Findlater said: “We know just how challenging a time it is for many households within our communities right now and by front-loading this money onto the gift card we hope it will ease the financial pressures on residents. Not only will this financial support help household, it will also drive significant spending and keep that spend local right here in Aberdeenshire at a time when many of our businesses are still recovering from the pandemic while facing spiraling material costs and utility bills. I very much welcome this initiative and would take this opportunity to encourage all businesses across the region to sign up to our Loves Local gift card so they can start reaping the benefits of the scheme.”

Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur said: “This scheme supported by Scottish Government funding to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and help address the cost of living crisis. The national Scotland Loves Local programme encourages people to think, choose and spend locally – retaining income in businesses and communities. The Scottish Government is supporting our communities as they help boost our economy.”

Scotland’s Towns Partnership Chief Officer Phil Prentice said: “This fantastic use of the Scotland Loves Local Aberdeenshire Gift Card will directly help people across the region with the cost of living, while channeling money straight back into local businesses. Everyone wins. The gift card is a force for good. It is a way to show support for the remarkable businesses in communities across Aberdeenshire which go above and beyond to support those around them, day in, day out. By choosing local, you can build a stronger future for the region. The council’s use of the gift card reinforces all of this. Doing so has delivered strong rewards for other authorities who have embraced their local gift card in this way.”

The disbursement of the Aberdeenshire gift cards will be administered by Miconex. Managing director Colin Munro, explained: “The disbursement of the Scotland Loves Local Aberdeenshire Gift Card presents a significant opportunity for the region’s businesses across a range of sectors. When recipients receive their gift card, the first thing they’ll want to know is where they can spend them. It’s quick and easy for Aberdeenshire businesses to sign up to the Aberdeenshire gift card, and works through the Mastercard system, with no additional costs or equipment required.”