Jersey gives citizens £100 each to support local businesses

The unique scheme will encourage locals to support businesses in their communities, most impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, over the next month and a half

The Government of Jersey will send prepaid cards worth £100 each to all citizens in a bid to get the local economy moving again after the pandemic took hold.

Up to 105,000 cards will go out loaded with cash to spend on local businesses before expiring at midnight on October 31.

However officials are encouraging people to hold onto their cards, produced as part of an initiative with Personal Finance Society and Mastercard, beyond that date – in case the Government announces another stimulus package at a later date.

The scheme designed by PFS could work for any government in Europe, they said.

Senator John Le Fondré, Chief Minister of Jersey, said: ‘’This scheme will give Islanders a positive way to support local businesses that have worked hard to adapt to the impact of Covid-19 and look after their customers in a safe way.

“The pandemic caused businesses across all sectors in Jersey to suffer. And while the Government has provided support through a range of measures, this scheme allows Islanders the opportunity to go out and treat themselves by supporting local Island businesses.”

The Spend Local cards offer a “real alternative” to delivering similar payments via local tax or benefits systems, according to Mastercard UK & Ireland president Kelly Devine, allowing authorities to target where and how the cash was spent to ensure it benefits the island community.

And citizens who can’t leave their homes during the pandemic can spend the money over the phone with any local business that accepts Mastercard payments.

Giving people cash to spend is crucial to keeping economies afloat in crisis and protecting wellbeing, experts have long said – including this week’s guest editor, author and star economist Rutger Bregman.

More than 70 per cent of Europeans support the idea of a Universal Basic Income, according to a Oxford University research carried out this year.

People on a basic income were happier, had greater trust of other people and institutions and were more confident in their ability to take control of their own future, according to the results of a Universal Basic Income trial in Finland revealed in May.

And in July, a UN Development Programme study argued for a temporary basic income as “feasible and urgently needed” to protect the world’s poorest people from Covid-19 – by allowing three billion people to stay at home instead of risking transmission in the work place.

A form of basic income has been introduced in Spain to combat the effects of the pandemic. Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias unveiled the creation of a minimum income worth €462 (£416.92) a month to help 850,000 households or 2.5 million people in May.