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Time to back local businesses with corporate incentive schemes, says Scots

Scots want employers to do more to support other businesses in their community – incentivising staff with rewards which can only be spent with local enterprises.

Findings of a poll released today show huge support for companies to use local gift cards when celebrating success, rather than opting for national or online-only alternatives.

Scotland Loves Local, the campaign which commissioned the research, believes the shift has the power to drive millions of pounds more directly into regional economies.

The poll of almost 1,400 adults, carried out by the Diffley Partnership, found that:

  • Almost seven-in-10 (68%) agreed that when using gift cards to reward and incentivise staff, employers should use local gift card schemes to support local town centres and small businesses rather than national alternatives.
  • Two-thirds (66%) agreed that offering a local gift card scheme is an effective way for employers to incentivise and reward their staff.
  • Three-quarters (78%) agreed that employers should do more to support local businesses in their area.

The appetite for local rewards has emerged as businesses of all sizes make plans for how they intend rewarding colleagues for Christmas 2023.

And they come as sales for the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card top £500,000 for the first time – a 120% increase on this point last year. Corporate orders from businesses is an important element of that, representing 50% of sales.

The card is an extension of the wider Scotland Loves Local campaign, spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP). It is designed to be an active way in which people can play a part in building stronger communities by choosing local and supporting businesses in their home area.

Kimberley Guthrie, STP’s Interim Chief Officer, said: “It’s fantastic to see the local pride and will from people working across Scotland to be rewarded in a way which allows them to directly support the people and businesses around them.

“When local employers support each other, it makes a tremendous difference. Greater use of local gift cards has the power to channel millions of pounds more of spending directly into local economies – a potential game-changer for many businesses.

“Keeping money local for longer is at the heart of this. It’s often said that every pound spent locally flips six times in the area’s economy, so the knock-on effect is significant.

“Thinking local first protects jobs, is better for the environment and helps make our communities more vibrant places in which to live. For employers, there are few more powerful forms of corporate social responsibility than helping support the future of other local businesses. Local gift cards allow them to do precisely that.”

Work to develop a digital Scotland Loves Local Gift Card – a project supported by the Scottish Government – is at an advanced stage.

Perth-based fintech Miconex delivers the gift card initiative for STP.

Working throughout the UK, Ireland and North America, its team has seen the difference that can be made in communities when employers of all sizes – from large factories and public sector organisations to family enterprises – embrace local gift cards.

Colin Munro, Miconex’s Managing Director, said: “Organisations are increasingly making the move to local gift cards to reward staff, customers and service users because they offer choice for the recipient blended with support for local. Firms want to offer a reward or incentive that reflects the diversity of their people, that can be used by the recipient easily and in a way that suits their individual needs.

“As reflected in the polling, there is increasing awareness and understanding of the role that organisations play in the success of their community. Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards offer a tangible means for organisations to give staff a useful reward or incentive and support local at the same time.”

Miconex Managing Director Colin Munro promoting the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card

Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards are available for every local authority region in Scotland. More than 7,000 businesses across the country are registered to accept them.

Each card can only be spent within the region for which it is branded, which ensures the money loaded on to each card can only be spent with local businesses.

Over the past year, Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards have been used by six local authorities to support people through the cost of living crisis and businesses with their ongoing recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by using regional gift cards to distribute a Scottish Government grant.

The Local Authority Covid-19 Economic Recovery (LACER) Fund fuelled £14 million-worth of spending with local businesses through gift cards distributed to low-income homes.

While born out of the need for people to get behind businesses in their community following the first coronavirus lockdown, the wider Scotland Loves Local campaign has grown into a long-term initiative for people to lay the foundations for stronger, more sustainable communities of the future by thinking local first and supporting local enterprises of all kinds.

You can find out more about the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card here.