A new citywide currency keeping money earned in city in the local economy

karen andy reeve pound

Above: Karen Leach from Localise West Midlands and Andy Reeve from Impact Hub Birmingham who have produced a currency note exclusive to Birmingham – see http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-could-next-city-launch-8810436.

They are planning to follow the model of the existing Bristol Pound, which is currently used by 782 firms and generates £1 million of business each year.

Karen Leach, coordinator at Localise West Midlands, said: “What normally happens is money leaves the area all the time because you spend money in an organisation that isn’t locally based and locally owned. Money is constantly sucked out like water down a big plughole from the local economy. That’s what we’re trying to stop.”

Since its creation more than two years ago, the Bristol Pound has become the UK’s largest rival to Sterling and the first city-wide currency. Brixton, Stroud, Totnes and Exeter have also introduced the scheme – and it is hoped the Birmingham Pound will repeat their success with independent businesses.

bristol poundThe Bristol Pound, a non-profit organisation, is regulated by the Bristol Credit Union and has received backing from Bristol City Council which has discussed plans to pay staff in the currency. Around a quarter of current Bristol Pound transactions are made using paper notes in £1, £5, £10 and £20 denominations while the rest are made electronically by mobile phone text messages or online. Read more here: Bristol Mayor chooses to be paid in Bristol Pounds.

Consultations on developing the idea will be made by a campaign group of local credit unions, trade organisations and businesses following an initial meeting last week.

Responsible localised leadership in Bristol

Mayor George Ferguson BristolMayor George Ferguson’s pledge to make Bristol “happier, healthier and more sustainable” was the cornerstone of his election campaign.

Soon after his election he announced his decision to take his salary in the UK’s first city-wide local currency – Bristol Pounds.

This local currency is run as a not-for-profit social enterprise by the Bristol Pound Community Interest Company and Bristol Credit Union.

Bristol Pounds are purchased with sterling and can be spent with any of the more than 500 businesses that have signed up. The scheme operates online banking and a text message payment system, and traders are even able to buy supplies in the currency, helping to create a “virtuous economic cycle.”

 

bristol pound 2

 

The Bristol Pound was launched in September last year in order to:

* support Bristol’s independent businesses,

* strengthen its economy

* and keep the city’s high streets diverse and distinctive.

Ferguson said: “I am a very strong advocate for our independent traders and businesses and as mayor, am committed to helping them flourish and grow. A strong independent retail sector is good for the local supply chain, helps boost new business growth and boosts the city’s economy.”

Bristol Pound director Chris Sunderland explains that “Most of the money spent in a city, leaves almost as soon as it’s spent. It goes up to the financial institutions and gets lost. What people can be sure of with Bristol Pounds is that they’re circulating in the city and that’s where they’ll stay.”

Julian Rose comments: “Compare that with the spirit of some politicians currently in the news and one begins to get a sense of what responsible localised leadership could achieve: not only a total turnaround in the fortunes of communities all over the UK – but a turn around in the entire outlook on the future.

“The future might actually look more promising than the present! A future where more and more areas declare themselves “Politician Free Zones” and set about managing their destinies with a distinct spring in their step”.