Scottish gift cards help communities through cost of living crisis

SCOTLAND Loves Local gift cards are being used by organisations across the country to support families, regional economies and local businesses.

The action to provide financial support to people when they need it most is being championed by charities, social enterprises and local authorities.

A 30-minute lunchtime webinar, ‘The Local Revolution: Connecting with Communities Using the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card’ will take place on Wednesday October 25.

It will highlight how communities can benefit from using the card, which can only be spent in the region for which they are branded in an effort to boost local economies.

The gift cards are free for businesses to accept, keeping money locked into local economies

These include how a housing association has used the card to support tenants, a charity has embraced it to work with service users and a council has helped residents.

The gift card brand is an extension of Scotland Loves Local, the drive spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), with support from the Scottish Government.

The goal is to encourage people to build stronger communities by choosing local and getting behind people and organisations in their area.

Nicola Hutchinson, who leads Scotland Loves Local at STP, said: “When you hear about the human impact of someone receiving a gift card to give them a financial lift when they have needed it most, it can be quite moving.

“We know from the people we work with that this has helped some to ensure they have not gone without essentials when the cost of living crisis has been deepest in their home.

“Not only that, but the unique way in which the card works has guaranteed that they have spent directly with businesses in their area, locking that money into the local economy.

“Organisations of all kinds have been able to help families at a critical time, but also help sustain local businesses and jobs, making their communities better.

“This webinar will celebrate all of that.”

The webinar is being hosted by Miconex, the Perth-based fintech which delivers the gift card initiative for STP.

Recent research by the firm found that 83% of charities and non-profit organisations have offered some sort of cost-of-living support.

Miconex managing director Colin Munro said: “In our August 2023 research, 96% of charities and non-profit organisations say they have changed some aspect of their support for service users post-pandemic.

“73% say offering choice for service users is integral to support and 81% are choosing local gift cards to support their community.

“Organisations are increasingly switching to the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card as they offer useful support for service users, ultimate local choice and support for local too, all in one easy to use gift card.”

The benefits of the card were highlighted by recent research which has encouraged employers to incentivise staff with rewards which can only be spent with local enterprises.

Almost 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.

78% agreed that employers should do more to support local businesses in their area.

The Scotland Loves Local campaign was born out of the need for people to get behind businesses in their community following the first coronavirus lockdown.

However it has grown into a long-term initiative for more sustainable communities of the future by thinking local first and supporting local enterprises of all kinds.