A local gift card scheme to boost businesses across Glasgow will be the biggest the UK has ever seen.

More than 700 businesses are already signed up to accept the Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Card - with the number rising weekly.

That breaks the record for the number of businesses registered to take part in a local gift card scheme, more than double that of the UK’s previous biggest programme with 300 businesses.

The Glasgow-branded gift cards can only be spent with businesses signed up to accept them within the city boundaries, meaning that money is locked into the area’s economy.

Its roll-out is an extension of the Scotland Loves Local campaign, Scotland’s Towns Partnership’s (STP) Scottish Government-backed drive for people to help their communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic by supporting local businesses.

STP is working alongside Perth-based fintech Miconex, which is administering and delivering individual gift card programmes available in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority regions.

The surge in Glasgow businesses signing up to accept the card follows a decision by Glasgow City Council to provide financial support to 85,000 lower income households - providing them with cards pre-loaded with £105 each.

With Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Cards available for anyone to buy, it is hoped that the one-off stimulus - itself worth more than £8m to local businesses - will encourage people across the city to effectively use them as local currency in the longer term.

STP Chief Officer Phil Prentice said: “The work taking place in Glasgow highlights the remarkable potential of local gift cards as a means by which to provide a significant injection into regional economies. Nothing has been done on this scale before.

“The decision by Glasgow City Council to use the cards to help so many homes across the city deal with the cost of living crisis - at the same time helping local businesses recover from the pandemic - has been a game-changer.

“This one-off stimulus has taken the financial power of the gift card programme in the city to the next level - one that we hope will help people realise that these cards are available to purchase and use as a long-term way of supporting local businesses.

“Importantly, it also reinforces the Scotland Loves Local rallying cry to think, choose and spend local.”

Businesses are being urged to ensure they can benefit from the millions of pounds already committed to the Glasgow scheme by signing up to accept the cards. Those registered so far include independent shops, social enterprises, convenience stores and supermarkets, as well as major chains. All employ local people.

Miconex is the UK’s biggest provider of local gift card programmes, operating over 150 programmes across the UK, Ireland and North America.

Managing Director Colin Munro said: “Local gift cards unite all sizes and types of business behind one gift card, giving customers ultimate choice in how to spend their card. The Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Card elevates that choice even further, with over 700 businesses ready to accept these cards as payment on anything from the weekly shop to school uniforms for back to school.

“With the gift card in their hand, residents in Glasgow have the opportunity to discover the local businesses that are right on their doorstep, locking money into Glasgow now, but importantly, creating the shop local habits that our places need for a vibrant and successful future.”

Glasgow City Council has played a critical role in signing up businesses to accept the gift cards, ensuring wide benefit of their disbursement programme.

Funding for the council project has come via a £9.45m Covid Economic Recovery Funding package awarded to the council by the Scottish Government.

Data from the council tax system is being used to identify households in receipt of Council Tax Reduction. This will be used to identify those eligible to receive the pre-paid gift card. These will be sent out directly in August. There is no application process.

To reduce the risk of theft, the cards will require activation via an individualised authentication process, details of which will be sent to eligible households.

A similar disbursement scheme in East Ayrshire - launched by East Ayrshire Council and Kilmarnock Business Association in response to the Covid-19 pandemic - was credited with delivering the dual benefit of supporting lower income homes and boosting the local economy.