Written by Michaela Parker.
As a method of social change; by strengthening local communities and allowing economies to grow, Bristol Pound is succeeding. With over 1200 accounts now open and over £260,000 converted from Sterling to £B at the end of July, the currency is growing
steadily and is beginning to become an integral part of Bristol’s local economy.
With the economic downturn still digging its heels in, Bristol’s independent and resilient nature has meant that rather than allowing their indies to close down, it has encouraged their use, celebrating the fact that we have such choice on the Gloucester Road, on North
Street and on Whiteladies that don’t have to turn to the chain stores. With NEF (new
economics foundation) research reporting that small to medium sized businesses employ
58% of the private sector workforce, these precious independent business are worth
Where does your £B go?
But in practice, how does a local currency like the £B help to strengthen a local economy
and therefore, help local businesses to survive? What happens to the currency once it is
accepted by a trader as payment? With over 600 businesses now accepting payment in
notes and by TXT2PAY, traders have had to start thinking logically about the best ways
to spend their £Bs, re-distributing them amongst others – be they customers or other
businesses in Bristol.
The Local Multiplier Effect
The model ‘Local Multiplier 3’ (LM3) was developed by NEF as a method of measuring
local economic impact. A way to help people to see how money flows through the
economic system once it is spent in a business, it can also help organisations and
businesses themselves identify ways to improve how their own income flows through the
system, with the aim being to keep the money in their local area. Find out more in the free
downloadable handbook here.
Once some shop owners receive their £B from customers, they redistribute them by giving
them to customers as change, introducing new people and tourists to the currency. Others
simply use them to pay for goods in their local area. Kerstin Price from Playfull Toyshop
on Gloucester Road says, “We try to use ours as much as possible locally. We go to
Scoopaway, Harvest, Gardner’s Patch for our veg, we’ve been to The Gallimaufry and had
a meal…it’s great. It’s just about always remembering to have the Pounds on you!” Others
pay business rates to Bristol City Council who, in turn use some of their Bristol Pounds
to pay wages. The staff that opt to receive £B as part of their wages will then use them in
their own local shops…and so the cycle begins again!
Imagine those £B were marked and we were to watch them move from hand to hand.
They would continuously circulate within Bristol and would never be spent outside of the
city. What we at £B ultimately want is for more money to be used in this way, allowing
less of it to disappear out of Bristol into the hands of the corporate giants. The more times
a £B changes hands, the stronger and more resilient our local economy will be. So set up
your standing order and start spending a few more £B every month – and play your part in
making our currency stick firmly to our local economy forever.