Bristol Pound – Birmingham Pound?

In March LWM’s co-ordinator reported the local interest in the potential of a Birmingham Pound – the Birmingham Mail following up one tweet about a first-stage meeting of a few potentially interested people. News of an increasingly well-developed scheme in Bristol gives an insight into the role of a local currency.

bristol poundThe Financial Times reported recently that theBristol poundis beginning to take root and ‘count’ in the local economy.

There are now about 1,200 members with Bristol pound accounts. Around 900 businesses in the city accept the currency including:

  • the local bus company which accepts Bristol pounds;
  • the council which accepts the local currency for council tax;
  • Good Energy, which takes the local currency as means of payment;
  • Yurt Lush, a Mongolian themed restaurant, which this month became the first business to pay its electricity bill using Bristol Pounds;
  • the council which will give staff who opt for this, all or part of their salary in Bristol pounds; George Ferguson, the mayor, is paid in the currency.

The Bristol Pound was launched in 2012 to support local business and reduce the environmental impact of long supply chains. There are notes of £1, £5, £10 and £20 denominations and someone opening an account with the Bristol Credit Union deposits sterling and is credited with an equal number of Bristol pounds. This money can be cashed, or drawn on electronically to pay bills online or via a mobile phone.

A case history from the FT:

bristol pound case history

The organisers say because the credit union is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Bristol pound deposits will enjoy the same protection as an ordinary bank account.


Read the article here – free registration: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4fe13c82-31e8-11e5-91ac-a5e17d9b4cff.html

 

City council and credit union plan to strengthen the local economy

Those working towards a coalition for a better economy will take note of the initiative by the Bristol Pound Community Interest Company (CIC), which is expected – in May – to launch its own bank notes with which traders in the city will be able to pay their business taxes. The project has been inspired by the Brixton Pound, which was launched in 2009 and introduced an e-currency and pay-by-text option last year, but is the first city-wide effort of its kind.

The Bristol pound, supported by the Liberal Democrat-led city council, will be accepted tender in the city by businesses that sign up to the project. Notes of £1, £5, £10 and £20 denominations will be issued. More than 100 local firms have already signed up to the currency.

The council’s pay-roll scheme will offer 17,000 staff the option of having a small part of their salaries paid using Bristol pounds and the council, in turn, is investigating which services it can procure using the new currency. 

The plan to encourage local trading

The plan is to encourage more local trading – as the pounds will only be accepted by other shops or businesses in the city – and so keep the money created in Bristol circulating within the city. 

Ciaran Mundy, director of Bristol Pound CIC expects that the currency will appeal to local tradesmen – such as plumbers and electricians – who are often self-employed and buy their materials locally. 

Mr Mundy said: “If you spend £10 in a supermarket, 8 of those 10 pounds have gone out of the local economy because so few of the items on sale are sourced locally. But if you spend your money in a local baker’s, for example, and they source their supplies locally, then that helps to keep wealth within the area.” 

The process: 

A person or business opening an account with CIC will deposit sterling and be credited with an equal number of Bristol pounds. This money can either be cashed, or used electronically to pay bills online or via a mobile phone. 

A protective guarantee 

The organisers say that – because the credit union is regulated by the Financial Services Authority – Bristol Pound deposits will enjoy the same protection as an ordinary bank account. 

Read more in the Bristol Business News and the Financial Times