Two more communities in the UK, Brixton and Stroud, have launched local currencies following Totnes and Lewes.
Brixton and Stroud’s new complementary currencies work alongside pound sterling. As the notes cannot be banked’ to earn interest, customers using it know they will be putting money into circulation, supporting local shops and employment. This helps build resilience against the rising costs of energy, transport and food.
The Stroud Pound grew out of the local Transition movement. Molly Scott Cato, one of the organisers, says: ‘The aim of the currency is to keep economic value within the local economy but the link to the area’s identity is important. We have lots of local producers and a big farmer’s market, so we hope that there will be a synergy between consumers and producers.’ Uniquely, the Stroud Pound is based on a co-operative model with a membership.
The Brixton Pound is the UK’s first local currency in an urban area. Dubbed the money that sticks to Brixton’, it was launched with tremendous enthusiasm and has the support of Lambeth Council. Over 70 traders signed up for the Brixton Pound, which can even be used to pay the Council Tax.
‘There has been a market in Brixton since the first stalls appeared in Atlantic Lane in the 1870s,’ explained Mayor of Lambeth, Christopher Wellbelove at the currency’s launch. ‘It’s my hope that with the community’s support of the Brixton Pound, we will have a Brixton Market for another 140 years and beyond.’
The notes commemorate local heros, as voted for by the people of Brixton, celebrating the diversity of the South London suburb. Featured faces include Olive Morris, a 1970s political activist and community leader, James Lovelock, who was once a resident and Vincent Van Gogh, who lived there in his twenties.
As with the other local currencies, the Brixton Pound is highly secure. Notes are printed on watermarked paper and also include a customised hologram, embossing and numbering.
‘If you spend ordinary pounds with a large chain retailer, over 80 per cent of your money leaves the area almost immediately,’ explains Josh Ryan-Collins, from the New Economics Foundation and one of the team who has helped develop the currency. ‘With the Brixton Pound, we know our money will stay working for Brixton. It puts the area at the heart of a powerful local renaissance that is fast gathering pace around the world.’
One Brixton Pound
Photo: © brixtonpound.org