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Scotland Loves Local goes digital

The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is going digital – supported by a £250,000 boost from the Scottish Government.

Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards can be loaded with credit and used in participating shops and businesses within users’ local council area.

Now the Scottish Government has announced further support for the programme, unveiling its latest financial investment to enable the cards to operate digitally via devices such as mobile phones.

By going digital, the cards can be used by businesses to reward loyal customers and encourage repeat custom.

The new system may also be made compatible with transport providers’ ticketing systems, allowing relatives or businesses to gift train and bus fares into town centres for shopping trips.

Cards are currently utilised by more than 20 councils – including six which have used them to distribute more than £13 million of Scottish Government Coronavirus (Covid-19) economic recovery funding to lower income households.

Visiting Barrhead, where the SLL cards have helped boost business in the town centre, Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur said: “Going digital is an important step forward. The scheme has already delivered millions of pounds of extra spending to help businesses recover from the pandemic and by increasing their useability I am sure even more people will be encouraged to shop locally.

“The cards have made a real difference in places like Glasgow, where thousands of cards have been used to access Scottish Government funding for economic recovery.

“They represent a step towards the creation of local currencies to be invested and retained within areas. Digitalisation will accelerate that process and help support fairer and more prosperous local economies.”

Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) delivers the Scotland Loves Local initiative – which includes the gift card – encouraging people to support their communities by spending locally.

Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur MSP, centre, promoting the Scotland Loves Local investment some of the team from Social Blend, Barrhead. Picture: Jamie Simpson / Scotland’s Towns Partnership

Interim Chief Officer Kimberley Guthrie said: “The Scotland Loves Local campaign is a force for good – galvanising communities to support local people and businesses at times when they have never needed that more.

“The need for us all to think, choose and spend locally is critical, not only in our ongoing recovery from the impact of Covid-19 on businesses, but in helping us all through the cost of living crisis and in responding to the climate emergency.

Kimberley Guthrie, left, and Tom Arthur MSP

“Continued support from the Scottish Government allows businesses and communities to innovate, invest and embrace opportunity, building better, stronger places.”

Promoting the announcement in his home town, Mr Arthur discussed the gift card and the wider Scotland Loves Local programme with All About Barrhead manager Andy Dunlop.

He also called into Social Blend, a cafe and gift shop run by award-winning charity Include Me 2, which is one of the places where shoppers can currently spend using the Scotland Loves Local East Renfrewshire Gift Card.

There, the Minister spoke with staff and volunteers who updated him on the employment and volunteering opportunities it offers, including providing a place where people can learn skills in the retail and hospitality trade through an acclaimed training programme.

Click here to find out more about the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card, including information for shoppers and how businesses can sign up to the programme.

You read more about the positive impact that the Scotland Loves Local East Renfrewshire Gift Card has had on businesses and communities in the region here.