Date: Tue Jan 14 23:32:35 1997
Subject: TURMEL: UK LETS Mission Highlights
get to tell the Queen about LETS but I did manage
to picket Buckingham Palace and not get arrested. Lucky I could
answer that I was picketing "for or against the Queen" with a
I did manage to picket the Bank of England with an insulting
sign (Bankers Are Crooks) and wasn't arrested as long as I only
used the Abolish Interest with LETS sign. I was told I could use
the Bankers are Crooks sign down the street in front of the
private banks so I did do the Royal Bank of Canada for a while
with the Bankers are Crooks and LETS Abolish Interest Rates. Give
it a try. Use those two signs while picketing a bank and see all
the thumbs up and honks of support.
But best of all, I did manage to find pro-LETS activists in
five different British political parties including two of the top
three big ones: Labour Party, Liberal Democratic Party, Islamic
Party, Green Party and Referendum Party.
While there, I found two separate articles in the Liberal-
"HELPING PEOPLE HELP
by Prof. Colin C. Williams
and Gill Seyfang
the key problems facing us as party activists is how
to implement our ideals. How do we put into practice our views on
What is the best way to encourage people to become active
citizens? How can we enable deprived communities to help
themselves in practical ways?
Recent research reveals that one Liberal Democratic policy
is starting to bear fruit. r> Local Exchange (jct:Employment) Trading Schemes (LETS) are a
self-help initiative which seek to enable those on low incomes to
become more actively involved in overcoming their situation in a
LETS are local associations whose members list their offers
of, and requests for, goods and services in a directory and then
exchange them, priced in a local unit of currency - favours in
Calderdale, acorns in Totnes.
As such, they have the potential to overcome the problem
that there are many people with unmet needs, and many others able
to and willing to work, but this supply and demand cannot be
matched due to a shortage of money. They also have the potential
to encourage the recycling and re-use of goods in communities.
The LETS movement has grown rapidly in the UK, from only 40
schemes in 1992 to over 350 last year. Research at Leeds
Metropolitan University has shown that there are now some 30,000
LETS members in the UK trading the equivalent of some L2.1
The largest LETS in Manchester has nearly 700 people
involved, trading over L90,000 worth of goods and services each
year, an average of L131 per member.
Although this might seem insignificant, for the LETS members
surveyed, such trade was widely held as important to their
The LETS had enabled them not only to get essential goods
and services that they would otherwise have been unable to afford
- getting gutters repaired or cookers mended - but had allowed
them to meet a wider range of people who they could call upon for
help and rebuild a sense of community in their localities.
Although initially LETS was seen to be something of a green,
middle-class hobby, the recent research shows that this is no
longer the case. As they have taken off, more and more people
joining them are low income and unemployed people who see them as
a way of overcoming their poverty and strengthening their social
Further research currently under way into the role of LETS
in promoting sustainability, also at Leeds Metropolitan
University, is providing additional information on their ability
to encourage a more environmentally-friendly way of working.
It is time for all Liberal Democrat local authorities to
take seriously their role as enablers and to start to enable
people to help themselves.
Also great news of other politicians using LETS to alleviate
"CAN COUNCILS HELP TACKLE
"Liberal-Democrat-led Stockport thinks it can and has launched an
anti-poverty strategy - including a LETS local currency scheme."
by Paul Porgess
Stockport's first LETS scheme is getting under way, assisted
by a grant from Stockport's Liberal Democrat-led council's anti-
LETS - Local Exchange (jct:Employment) Trading Scheme - is a
scheme by which local people on low incomes can have work done
without spending money, and then repay their debt by providing a
service to someone else.
In other words, it is a barter scheme which enables people
to use their skills and creative talents for mutual benefit. To
be successful, the scheme needs to be organised by committed
volunteers within the community it serves.
It also needs good control of the credits gained or traded
in. To assist in that, the council is providing money for a
computer which is to be used for the effective control, as well
as money for training of the volunteers running the scheme.
Fours years ago, Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council,
concerned about the link between poverty and ill-health, and that
nationally one in three children live in poverty, set up an anti-
poverty strategy and allocated money in the council budget for
Stockport covers some of the more deprived parts of Greater
Manchester, as well as some of the wealthiest. When we embarked
on the anti-poverty programme, we wanted to know what the needs
were in the various parts of the town.
We wanted to find out where people on low incomes were
living, as not everyone living on council estates is in poverty,
and many people on low incomes do not live on council estates.
We therefore held a series of anti-poverty forums, open to
the public, voluntary organizations, churches, as well as the
health authority and front line council employees.
LETS schemes were a subject of one of the anti-poverty
forums where their advantages and difficulties were explored.
A major issue with LETS schemes is that officials sometimes
view the credits gained in monetary terms, even though there is
no exchange of money. A member on Support and participating in
LETS schemes is in danger of having their benefit reduced.
The Heatons LETS scheme is the first to be started with the
initiative coming from residents of the area. Progress will be
reviewed after six months and, if successful, a second LETS
scheme will be supported.
STOCKPORT'S anti-poverty drive has two main aims, to -
- ALLEVIATE the effects of poverty amongst residents of
- REDUCE the number of people living in poverty in
There is a small budget - L60,000 for 1996/1997 - against
which local groups can bid for grants.
Bids are assessed against published criteria which are based
on improving quality of life, increasing people's disposable
income and ability to pay for essentials, influencing other
agencies and organisations which contribute to a reduction of
poverty, and supporting people in poverty to take action on their
Assessment is made with the help of council officers, the
health authorities, and the Council for Voluntary Service. Self-
funding or the ability to gain outside funding when council
support ceases is also expected.
Other activities assisted include healthy eating cafes,
fruit and vegetable co-ops - with the health authority - a toy
library and several other projects run by volunteers...
Also funded has been a country court case worker to give
free representation in court for home owners facing mortgage
Stockport Council has subscribed to the National Local
Government Forum Against Poverty and - in recognition of the work
done in the borough - the January meeting of the North West and
North Wales Anti-Poverty Forum is being held in Stockport.
Cllr Paul Porgess is chair of Stockport's equal opportunities.
Remember that during my 1996 Hamilton East federally
by-election, I organized five of us candidates, Green, Christian
Heritage, Abolitionist and 2 Independents to sign a petition for
a national Canada LETS. Now I've started pro-LETS movements in
five UK parties to get their leaders to cooperate on LETS when
they form the next government.
these Liberal Democrat politicians who I'd bet will
vote for LETS when comes the time, I first spoke with pro-LETS
activists from Paddy Ashdown's Liberal Democratic Party, the
third largest party, including Ken Palmerston and former Liberal-
Democrat municipal candidate Richard Kay, a most prominent UK
Then I spoke with pro-LETS activists from the Islamic Party
including leader David Pidcock who assured me no Islamic
candidate would stand against a pro-LETS candidate from one of
the larger parties and that they would even help the pro-LETS
candidate from the larger party to win. Mr. Pidcock stated he
would declare Jihad, the religious duty of all 2 million Muslims
in the UK to vote for the program, not the party.
When I returned from my trip, I was pleased to read of their
commitment to that larger-pro-LETS-party support in
Article #3174 (3176 is last):
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Islamic Party of Britain)
Subject: Islamic Party joins Canadian abolitionists
Date: Fri Jan 10 16:03:51 1997
*In a meeting in London with John
Turmel, leader of the Canadian
*abolitionist party, the Islamic Party of Britain representatives
*re-affirmed their intention to join forces with anybody willing to
*fight the evil of interest which is most strongly condemned in Islam
*(the Qur'an contains a declaration of war from Allah and His messenger
*against usury), as it is prohibited in Islam's monotheistic
*precedessors, Judaism and Christianity, in their unadulterated
*The eloquent Canadian who argues for the introduction of a
*government-backed LETS (Local Exchange Trading System), a free and
*green alternative to interest-based debt-finance, is picketing
*Buckingham Palace today to petition the Queen to support the scheme.
*He has offered her free credit from the tens of thousands of LETS
*supporters already in the UK, some of whom are local councils using
*the scheme to alleviate the hardships of the money draught which
*results in unemployment and poverty in spite of people's ability
*to be productive.
*He has promised to return for the British general election
*expected in the spring to run a joined campaign to form a
*coalition promising support for any candidate willing to
*support this issue. The Islamic Party of Britain has made the
*fight against an interest-based monetary system is key issue
*since it fought the Bradford bye-election in 1990 against
*"Satanic Purses". The party hopes that the issue can be
*effectively raised in the forth-coming general elections,
*and is willing to support any candidate or pressure group
*joining the campaign. email@example.com
I like it when they include the Torah of their cousins, the
Jews. They could be kissin cousins with LETS but they're stuck as
killin cousins with usury.
asked nothing more but that from the pro-LETS
activists from the Green Party including the publisher of the
Green Sustainable Economics newsletter, Brian Leslie, who
indicated he would urge Greens to join a political coalition and
support a larger pro-LETS party.
And long-time LETS organizers Liz Sheppard and Sabine
MacNeill have both pledged their vote to a LETS candidate. I
doubt many actual LETS members will not!
I got to speak to Mr. Gamre, a candidate from Sir
Goldsmith's Referendum Party who was pro-LETS when I had finished
my poetic presentation.
And finally, I spoke with pro-LETS activists from Tony
Blair's Labour Party, the second largest party, including Labour
candidate David Williams, the first person ever hired by a
government to teach LETSystems. He said he would look into making
it a national issue and am sure he'll find more interest than he
Richard Kay emailled his leader Paddy Ashdown informing
him of the offer of support from the Islamic leader, the Green
activists and possible LETS members in general, and it's been
referred to the right department. On the same day was a huge
full-page of articles in the UK Guardian, a nationally distributed
paper, about the upcoming LETS election battleground:
THE GUARDIAN (UK)
The Economics Page
"ELECTION BATTLEGROUND /
Local currencies gain ground in era of
by Sarah Ryle
Picture#1: "Bank of Exchange
Note: Caricature of smiling plumber
receiving freshly baked pie from granny for fixing faucet:
Caption: "We promise to exchange goods or services to the value
of one Bobbin"
Picture#2: "Corner Shop... cornerstone of successful LETS"
Picture#3: "Disabled access... LETS work for everyone"
Picture#4: "Drumchapel, Glasgow... LETS regenerate"
Picture#5: "Old Lady (Bank of England)... LETS work with main
"THE HAVES AND
Graph#1: "The rise of the jobless household: % of households
without work" Source: Centre for Economic Performance (LFS)
Graph#2: "Credit card transactions: Number of transactions,
millions" Source: British Bankers' Association
"CREATING MORE THAN A TOKEN REVOLUTION"
sensible people with homes, jobs or pubs to go to have
spent recent days warmly ensconced and not at the sales. But
sense diminishes as cash flow or confidence in credit rises - or
so it would appear from the retailers' and banks' gleeful reports
of shoppers carrying all before them.
Sooner or later, the authorities will decide that the fun
has to be paid for. Devotion to low inflation will trigger a rise
in interest rates, with economists and the markets betting on
this month, next month, 25 basis points now or 50-plus later.
Mortgages will become more expensive.
Consumers are presented with a non-choice: spend now and pay
later, or save any disposable income. Either way, they have to go
without at some point. The individual's free will in an economic
context is at best irrelevant.
Changes in economy-driving factors like communications,
labour relations and financial-sector reforms have chipped away
at the role of the ordinary person. Globalisation means that for
many workers, bosses are thousands of miles away. Electricity and
water services line the pockets of American firms.
Talk of electronic money baffles many. In the UK, the
increasing number of jobless households means the concept of a
bank account and cheque book, let alone a credit card, is an
To top it all, there is Europe and the single currency which
a large chunk of the public dismisses as too complicated to think
about. Fear of losing control to Euro-bankers or to American
companies is pointless. Control of the economy is arguably more
in the gift of the international money markets than the elected
government, and what is the difference between American firms and
home-grown fat cat bosses?
Yet people are fearful. Some of this trepidation has taken
human form in the New Moral Army.
A more useful manifestation of the individual's desire to
regain control, the wish to count for something in this world, is
the explosion of locally run economic systems.
The number of Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) in the
UK is estimated to exceed 300, with many starting up over the
past two years. Small groups with big goals club together to
trade local skills and products ranging from legal advice to
baby-sitting to organic potatoes. Local currencies are developed
to tally the transactions.
The aim is to regenerate local economies and communities
suffering the ravages of unemployment and income inequality.
Studies have argued that LETS are a godsend for people with no or
low income, and show they have mushroomed during past
So far, the jibe has been that they appeal only to people
who fit the Hampstead Liberal tradition rather than descendants
of the Jarrow marchers. But schemes have taken root on some of
Britain's most deprived estates. The fact that LETS have become
so much more common since the recession also shows they are a
direct response to unemployment and lower conventional spending
power. Given that the last recession notoriously hit white-collar
workers harder than blue-collar ones, it is not surprising if the
middle classes have been the engine behind the LETS revolution.
There have been minor slashes with the authorities in the
shape of the Inland Revenue and the Department of Social
Security whose local offices have been known to suspend benefits
for members of LETS. Officials now reckon one unit of local
currency is equivalent to one pound but judge scheme members on a
There are cases of local money systems in America and
Austria becoming so successful that the central banks felt the
need to crush them (Murray and Collins).
Schemes in America, Canada, Australia have begun to mirror
the mainstream economy with central computes monitoring
transactions. The LETS in Nova Scotia has even experienced
inflation participants began to demand a bigger percentage of
each transaction in dollars as Maritime Hours became too common.
In this country, by charming coincidence, there are two
significant monetary meetings due to take place on Jan 15. As
Chancellor Kenneth Clarke meets the Governor of the Bank of
England to debate the macroeconomy and wangle over base rates,
the Manchester LETS will be examining the future of the Bobbin.
Manchester LETS is one of the biggest in the UK, with 700
members who span age and class distinctions. All transactions are
worth six Bobbins an hour. Although this raises questions about
the Bobbin's similarity to traditional money, which yields
information on supply and demand, the members appear to value
this minimum and maximum wage.
It is set to become the first LETS in the country to start a
credit union, linking the Bobbin to sterling and - according to
one of the scheme's founders, Siobhan Harpur - increasing its
durability in a post-recession economy. The credit union will
offer loans to help establish micro-businesses which will pay
interest in Bobbins. The administrators, too, will be paid in the
There are 11 LETS in Suffolk which are also discussing a
credit union - membership of a LETS fulfills the legal
requirement that all participants of credit unions must have
something in common. But according to the LETS coordinator, Sally
Moxon, it will be run along conventional sterling lines rather
than using their currency, the Talent.
The aim is to stimulate business and offer personal loans to
low- or no-income households who would otherwise visit
LETS aim to help the growing number of households without
access to sufficient conventional money, but also to embrace
other people who are on the margins of the mainstream economy.
These include mentally ill and physically disabled people. The
social aspect of LETS is almost as important as their use as a
tool of the economic regeneration.
Enthusiasts have a long way to go if they want to convince a
family living in poverty that earning LETS currency is worthwhile
when it cannot be used to feed a gas or electricity meter.
But the bigger they become, the more relevant they will be.
The Manchester and Suffolk schemes are investigating the
potential to link LETS to local authority taxation.
This has been done in other countries and the security it
provides has attracted a wider range of business ventures into
the the schemes, anchoring LETS as crucial to the local economy.
Councils could extend already-established municipal cards which
give discounted use of facilities and other bonuses.
Ultimately, it may be the fact that LETS are small, and
manageable, that sustains them. When all the power in the world
is being distilled into the hands of fewer and fewer players, the
human need to assert individuality and local identity is stronger
* "LETS on low-income, New Economics Foundation, and Local
Money and Community Economic Development, Robin Murray and Keith
"BRIXTON BUILDS COMMUNITY ON BRICKS"
by Charlotte Denny
Brixton there is a butler available for hire (has own
uniform, can do silver service) who takes payment in the local
currency, the Brixton Brick.
Silver service might not appeal much to the 20 percent of
the area's inhabitants who are unemployed. But for Ann Parnell
McGarry, who is disabled, the services she can buy with Bricks,
the currency of Brixton's Local Exchange and Trade Scheme (LETS),
have made a real difference.
"I discovered the scheme a year ago and now I use it for
paying a cleaner, a chiropodist, a driver and someone to fix my
computer. I cannot imagine now how I would do without Bricks. It
means I can pay for all the things which social services do not
Brixton's is one of many local exchange schemes, or systems,
in the UK which allow members to trade without using real money.
The idea is to stimulate local economic activity in low-income
areas. For someone like Ms. McGarry, whose disability prevents
her from taking on full-time work, Bricks mean she no longer has
to ask friends for favours.
"It is very hard to keep up your self-respect when you are
always asking for help. When you can offer Bricks you don't have
to be grateful because it is a proper exchange and you know it is
helping them as well."
Her cleaner uses the Bricks she earns to buy child care from
someone else within the scheme.
Ms. McGarry makes gin and lemon marmalade, offers advice on
fund-raising and hires out her computer scanner to earn Bricks.
She sees LETS as a way of using all her talents: "I am a jack of
all trades but if I were in a job I would only be using a few of
my skills." She advises people new to the scheme to think
carefully about the things they are good at which might provide
business opportunities and make use of them all.
New members' needs and wants are listed in a regular
newsletter and directory. Entries in the most recent directory
range from plumbing to psychic healing.
New members have to make some Bricks before they are issued
with a cheque book. Once they have cheques, they can pay for
goods and services in Bricks. The cheques are sent to one of the
organizing group who enter the debts and credits on a computer.
Members are not charged interest if they run up overdrafts
but if they get too far into debt, the organizing group will send
a warning letter, and may ultimately withdraw their cheque
Ms. McGarry says that LETS are easier to organize in rural
areas and villages where people know their neighbours. In
Brixton, LETS provides a sense of community "without the
downside, the lack of privacy."
There are not many unemployed members, even though Brixton
has a large number of people out of work. According to Ms.
McGarry, many people join because they believe in community or
green politics rather than because they need the income.
Some local businesses have joined the scheme. But at the
Cafe on the Common, Leah Hargreaves, one of the three women
running the establishment, says that it has had mixed results.
The cafe lets people pay for part of their meals in Bricks, with
a Brick being equal to a pound. The problem came when they hired
people to do building work through the scheme.
"We only pay ourselves four Bricks an hour but the people we
hire through the scheme sometimes charge 10 Bricks an hour. We
have to pay for our food and other bills in pounds, so it can
prove quite expensive."
the headline heralds, forming a LETS coalition the
election battleground in the upcoming UK general election. LETS
will be endorsed by more and more candidates over time and would
expect to soon break the record of 5 parties in such consensus.
hope to be back in the United Kingdom in time to cheer
on pro-LETS members of all parties to obtain the commitment of
their party leaders to LETS installation on a national database.
This is a once in a 5 year chance to vote for a national LETS.
Otherwise, you're going to have to keep grinding LETS out locally
without government support or sanction.
I have planted the seeds of consensus on LETS in
five parties so far and I'd would hope that talk of LETS
coalition would soon be on every UK LETSer's agenda. This is not
a time to think small and think slow. Doubters need simply debate
what advantages there are to building up slowly from the local
level over installing nationally the Hour-for-Tally national
LETSystem software overnight.
I think the folly of choosing small becomes obvious.
Sadly, I note the probable demise of the ncf.ca.lets
newsgroup after a concerted effort by expert "Administration and
Security" pro-LETS enthusiasts to shut it down to an archive.
With pro-LETS enthusiasts like this, we hardly need enemies.
Nevertheless, there are now Brits running with the LETS
political football now. Who says I need to do anything more than
to have kick-started their coalition?
Just like in Hamiton, I told the voters I only needed one
smart guy to "do-it-locally-yourself" and within 1 month, a bunch of
smart guys did "do-it-locally-yourself." Perhaps now that I've
cheered on 5 smart parties to "do-it-nationally-yourself,"
then a bunch of smart guys from those 5 parties just may also
successfully within 1 month of the election "do-it-nationally-
What's really fascinating is that much of this is movement
by an army of pawns. Each little person can use his vote to push
his politician for LETS. Each little politician can use his job
to push his leader for LETS.
As I told David Williams, how will you feel if you're facing
your Liberal Democract opponent wearing the same LETS diskette
you are except that his leader is also wearing it while your
leader is not? Somehow, I think that worried him and I believe
that he will try to make LETS one of his party's issues before
the Liberal Democrats.
If every LETSer in the UK called their local federal
candidates and informed them that they will support the party
that supports LETS, I'd bet those candidates call up their
leaders. I know it got David Williams motivated. He knows how
foolish he'd look if Paddy Ashdown leads his party
members pro-LETS while David's leader Tony Blair does not.
Please try this out. See if you have any political power you
were not aware you could use. Call the candidates and tell them
you're voting for the program and not the party. Is the party
pro-LETS nationally or not? And why not?
A lot of you missed the chance to help me ask Her Majesty
for a LETS before Christmas. I hope you don't miss the chance to
insist upon Her Majesty's government with your vote. You just
can't keep ignoring these one-shot chances at a quick national
And I'd like to give Prince Charles to decide on LETS. He
deserves the chance to decide for himself whether to retain the
old "Mort-gage" 1/(s-i) banking software or support the sleeker
new LETS 1/s no-feedback banking software.
I have a few more surprises up my political sleeve but right
now, we need progress reports. Friends who are reading this,
start your calls and tell us which candidates do and don't
support a national LETS. We have to know where every potential
candidate and party stands on LETS. Using a questionaire to get
that information will make LETS a national issue when enough
candidates are approached.
I tested the waters. Everyone I explained LETS to was ready
to vote pro-LETS. Everyone. I met no doubters that LETS could be
installed overnight. This is a political idea whose time has come
and you must not miss this chance to use your once-in-5-year vote
to prod your candidates along the electoral battleground towards
a national LETS.
Those who want me to come back in time for the election
campaign, the least you can do is do your best to get it agreed-
upon on your own and perhaps freeing me up for other duty.
It would be a shame if all us paupers and pawns didn't use
this rare opportunity to get everyone an interest-free bank
account to settle up their debts and start fresh.
Fortunately, there's no need to handle any doubters since
the LETSystem 1/s engineering design is as trivial to grasp as
poker chips. Give any 16-year-old who banks the neighborhood
small-stakes poker game a chance to explain LETS with his chips
and you'll be surprised how well most children can get a handle
on it. The real feat is for adults to beat the brainwashing and
see the evil of USURY 1/(s-i) software versus the soundness of
the LETS 1/s interest-free software.
You have political power. Many people in the grips of usury
debt slavery do not have the opportunity to vote. To fail to use
your available power is a sin against those who cannot vote for
The Islamic Party has declared anti-USURY pro-LETS Jihad on
Britain's 2 million Muslims. I urge the Islamic Party to declare
Jihad on all in the Muslim world. Informing Her Majesty and
candidates for Her Government that Greenhour Tallies will be
accepted in trade as a secondary currency for oil. If the Muslim
oil producers offered trade in oil, hour for hour, Her Majesty's
government would soon see the advantage of maximizing the
nation's number of hours worked.
You know how are the Abolitionists of Interest in the Muslim
world. Get them to ask their governments to offer Britain barter
trade deals using the LETS for the accounting.
Any Buddists out there who want to jump on the pro-LETS
anti-USURY bandwagon? Any Jews? Any other religions? Is there any
religion which says USURY is good for the members?
Jihad for pro-LETS consensus now.
Send a comment to John Turmel