How can we make sure that more of our taxes stay in Bristol, working for the people who live here?

The council spends £350 million of public money each year. Most of this is spent with businesses outside of Bristol, including with large multi-nationals. The Panama Papers released last year made it clear that some of this ends up in tax havens overseas. What can we do to ensure that more of our taxes stay in Bristol, supporting the real economy – the local businesses and the people who live here?

Well, the obvious answer is: pay your taxes in Bristol Pounds.

Bristol City Council is committed to respending 100% of the Bristol Pounds they receive – as business rates, BID payments, market rents and council tax.

That means that if you pay your council tax in Bristol Pounds, every (Bristol) penny of it goes back out in Bristol Pounds to local, independent businesses – supporting local jobs and getting money moving around the city.

Last year 119 people paid their council tax in Bristol Pounds. That’s great! But just imagine how much wealth we could keep moving around the city if we could increase that number this coming tax year!

city-hall-with-b-flag

So, what happens to the Bristol Pounds the Council is getting now?

Many council employees choose to take a part of their wages in Bristol Pounds. In doing this, council employees (civil servants and councillors) take on the pledge to spend more of their own money locally. Some choose to buy their lunch from an independent café, pay their energy bills or buy their groceries, some decided to buy all their gifts from independent retailers. Watch from 0:56 to hear from Councillor Carla Denyer and then council employee Elaine Ashley:

But last year, Bristol City Council got even more ambitious. They decided to use their Bristol Pounds to choose a local architect firm Alec French for some crucial renovation work on Bristol’s City Hall. This kept a significant amount of public money within our local economy, passing on a pledge for Alec French to localise their supply chains too.

Here’s what Nigel Dyke, Director of Alec French had to say on why supporting our local economy is important:

“Alec French have had a Bristol Pound account for nearly 3 years now.  Set up in 2015 as part of our response to Bristol Green Capital we have used it to localise our supply chain wherever possible.  As a local business we see this as an important part of our commitment to Bristol and our support for a great organisation contributing massively to a better city.”

Paying your council tax is an amazing way of ensuring our hard-earned taxes work for communities in Bristol and don’t leak out of the city through large multi-national companies to offshore tax havens and executive pay deals. Let’s use our money for good.

Council tax bills will be hitting doormats from next week. So you can set up your Bristol Pound payments pretty soon (and if you don’t have an account yet, there’s still time to sign up to get your payments done in Bristol Pounds).

Here’s Hannah explaining how to do it:

If you have any troubles setting up the payment, we’ve got brand new video walk-throughs available (uploaded this week!) on our YouTube page. And you can always get in touch – I’m here to help you. Email me on ruby@bristolpound.org or call me on 0117 929 8642.

Oh, and if you don’t have a Bristol Pound account yet, sign up for one now and let’s change money, for good!

Cheers all,

Ruby