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

Are you paying for your council tax in Bristol Pounds yet?

If, like me, you’re someone with many good intentions, always making lists of things you want to improve – signing up to a greener energy company, finding a better way than supermarkets to shop, getting round to paying for council tax in Bristol Pounds – I say shut down this screen right now and get to it. Pay your council tax and business rates with Bristol Pounds.My favourite quote about procrastination is Picasso’s “only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”. OK, this is admittedly a little heavy for simply changing your buying habits. But when something really matters, and for me, supporting the local community and the people in it deeply matters, I think you’ve got to seize the moment to make those lifestyle changes you’ve been thinking about for so long.

Paying for my council tax in Bristol Pounds has been on my to-do list since it was announced that you can pay this way. A quick Google search makes me realise that that was more than a year ago. It was only when the latest bill came through in March that I thought it’s time I get this sorted. What’s fiddly about the process is that the first council tax bill is a slightly different amount, so setting up the regular payments is a little clunky. But so worth it. I’m sure the more people use this system the more streamlined it’ll become though.

Now that a healthy amount of cash is going into my Bristol Pound account each month, I’m paying for more stuff in Bristol Pounds. On the way back from a meeting in Whiteladies Road, I had a quick search to find vendors accepting Bristol Pound. My first try wasn’t successful – I popped into the RWA gift shop to try to buy some greeting cards, but was told their text-to-pay wasn’t currently working. Hey ho. Instead I visited Park St Local newsagents and came out with the guilty pleasure of a Grazia mag. Park Street, Bristol Later on in the week I paid for my lunch at Bagel Boy by text message and, on another day, coffee out. Easy. Even if I did have to explain what Bristol Pounds are on occasion (and a manager had to come and assure the shop assistant), once you’re set up to text from the app and everyone knows what they’re doing, the process of paying is much quicker than using a bank card.

So anyone in Bristol without a Bristol Pound account – and anyone with an account lying dormant – I urge you not to kick the bucket leaving it undone. Get an account by signing up online or pop into the Bristol Credit Union office on Cheltenham Rd as soon as you can, then crack on with sorting the council tax too. Once it’s done it’s done.

Ramona Andrews is a food writer and digital content producer who has written for the BBC, Time Out, Channel 4 and many more.

Sign up for a Bristol Pound account here and find out how to pay your council tax here.

Park Street image courtesy of Rept0n1x

A food shop just using Bristol Pounds?

Last week I challenged myself as a newbie to Bristol, to do a food shop using JUST Bristol Pounds.

Shopping with Bristol Pounds

This ‘city specific’ currency is wholly new to me and I find it fascinating. What I wanted to know was whether the Bristol Pound is a thing designed to appeal to tourists or whether real Bristolians are using it for every day purchases. After all, if they are – this is a good thing – because more of the Bristol Pound goes back into Bristol than the standard pound, thus, its supporting the local economy in a more effective manner.

I headed down to the Tourist Information Centre last week to purchase my pounds – all very easy – it was a straight swap, cash for cash. I asked the lady behind the counter who she’s selling them to. She told me that they sell a lot of them to all sorts of people including lots of locals and definitely not just to tourists (despite there being a Japanese couple behind me in the queue who told me they were buying them as a souvenir).

Shopping with Bristol Pounds

Anyway, with my directory in hand, I headed out to buy some food. It was a small achievable list which was mainly vegetables with a few rogue items (chipotle chilli and tortillas) which I needed for a recipe I’m working on.

I spent a couple of hours walking from town up to and along Gloucester Road and as I went along, I was really impressed to see just how many places accept the Bristol Pound either in cash or text message form with big clear window stickers announcing that they accept the currency. I found that on Gloucester Road alone, there were numerous places – greengrocers, cafes, delis and international shops – where I could shop.

My favourite though, was back towards town. Bear Fruit, a pop up grocers in the Bear Pit and very convenient for home. I spent some time talking to the guy there, explained what I was doing and why. He loved it and told me how great he thinks the £B is. I picked up almost everything I needed that day with just a few items I had to resort to else where for.

Shopping with Bristol Pounds

My experience was wholly positive – it sparked conversations and made me feel part of the community. I’ll definitely use Bristol Pounds again. They help the community and give you a sense of belonging which is greatly appreciated by me, a newbie to this great foodie city!

So thank you to the Bristol Good Food Diaries and Bristol Food Connections for welcoming me in and giving me the idea for this challenge! Nailed it!

Alex Ryder is a food writer and blogger who has recently moved to Bristol. You can read more of her adventures in food here: http://www.gingeybites.com/.

 

Did you know you can pay your council tax and business rates in Bristol Pounds?

Council tax and business rates letters are dropping through Bristol’s front doors over the next few weeks and it’s easy to pay in Bristol Pounds every month.

Pay your council tax and business rates with Bristol Pounds.

When you pay your council tax or business rates in Bristol Pounds you’re supporting small, local businesses as Bristol City Council will spend your Bristol Pounds with local suppliers. This keeps more money in Bristol – making our local economy even stronger.

Lots of Bristol residents are already making monthly (or one-off) council tax and business rate payments through their Bristol Pound online accounts. They tell us it’s a great way to increase the amount of Bristol Pounds they spend and they feel good about the positive impact it has on the city.

Paying your council tax or business rates with Bristol Pounds is easy and free – you can do it online each month or set up a regular payment. Find out how by clicking these buttons:

How to pay your council tax in Bristol Pounds
How to pay your business rates in Bristol Pounds

Our user guides for paying council tax in Bristol Pounds and paying your business rates in Bristol Pounds take you through the process of setting up payments step-by-step, including how to make sure you’ve always got enough money in your Bristol Pound account. If you need any help, you can always contact the office on info@bristolpound.org or by calling 0117 929 8642.