NSW Dine and Discover vouchers will ‘not be extended’ as millions remain unused


Millions of NSW Dine and Discover vouchers remain unused, but their expiry date will not be extended beyond June 30, according to the government.

Thirty-two million vouchers have been issued under the program launched in March 2021 to help local businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of that total, 20 million (62%) was used, representing $820 million spent on people eating in and out.

Just four days from the end of the program, 12 million vouchers remain in circulation.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello is “super happy” with the results, hailing the program as an “overwhelming success”.

“It’s not designed so everyone has to spend the vouchers, it’s an opt-in program,” he said.

“But five and a half million people, out of an adult population of around six million, have actually signed up to receive the vouchers, which is just amazing.

“And the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with satisfaction rates over 90%. »

Mr. Dominello says the turnout for the program has been extraordinary.(PA: Flavio Brancaleone)

A system has been set up with charities where people can donate their unused vouchers, with Mr Dominello ruling out another extension.

“The program will not be extended, it has already been extended…so this is the last extension. If they are not used by June 30, they expire,” he said.

“But there are new businesses in the charity sector that have put in place a framework where you can pay, and I encourage people to do that.”

The state opposition says the government is making a mistake and is asking for its extension.

Departmental data shows that the rate of use of vouchers across age groups has been evenly distributed, a success Dominello attributed to the way they were rolled out.

He says that nowhere else in the world was there such targeted financial support for businesses.

“I challenge anyone to find a system that has almost no fraud or waste that goes straight to the companies, they get paid within three days,” he said.

“I’ll eat my left shoe if I can see a better pattern.”

However, the data also showed uneven use of vouchers across the state, with people living in regional local government areas less likely to have redeemed them.

Topping the list was Central Darling in the far west of the state, where more than 70% of vouchers went unspent.

Mr Dominello acknowledged the non-compulsory nature of the scheme meant there would be variation, but said in places like western Sydney it contributed to the cost of living.

a woman speaking outdoors behind microphones
Ms Catley says it is disappointing that the money has failed to reach savings in the regions.(Facebook: Yasmine Catley)

For the state opposition, this is another example of the “city-country divide”.

‘It is disappointing to see that despite the prime minister saying the aim of this program was to reinvigorate local economies, the money has failed to reach regional communities,’ the shadow minister said. of customer service and digital, Yasmin Catley.

NSW Shadow Region and West Minister Mick Veitch said rural areas had lost out again.

“It’s staggering to think that rural councils including the first 60 areas in the state haven’t been able to redeem the vouchers,” he said.

“It is a disgrace and the National Party has yet again overseen the poor delivery of a program in rural and regional New South Wales.”

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