UK Local Exchange Trading and Complementary Currencies Development Agency

LETS – Local Exchange Trading Systems or Schemes – are local community-based mutual aid networks in which people exchange all kinds of goods and services with one another, without the need for money … (full long text Homepage).

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About: Pioneering complementary currencies – LETSlink UK is the lead body supporting Local Exchange Trading Systems nationally. We represent LETS in the media, to the government and national organisations. 

We organise UK conferences, training and seminars, advice, networking, and the development of new forms of LETS for health services, food producers, local authorities and ‘third’ sector’ community economic initiatives.

We are a non-profit voluntary agency with charitable objectives, dedicated to testing, researching and developing sustainable models for local and community-based LETS and complementary currencies.
We encourage organisers of LETS schemes to network with each other locally, and we are developing a range of practical administrative services and training opportunities for LETS organisers.

We run conferences throughout the UK where LETS organisers come together to share knowledge and methodologies. We are also working with academics interested in the problems of mainstream financial systems, to acknowledge the role of LETS as a practical example of community currency.

Our aim is to empower and inform people and organisations through the provision of appropriate, practical, and ethical guidelines on how to organise and develop their own local exchange systems.
LETSlink UK was founded in 1991 by Liz Shephard as the world’s first national LETS development agency and network. In its early years, LETSlink UK developed a national advice line, servicing over 50,000 enquiries and developed the model rules, materials, back up and ‘best practice’ guidelines used by UK LETS schemes and subscribers. In 1994 Liz Shephard received the first Schumacher Award for ‘a triumph of voluntary effort’ in the development of LETS throughout Britain.

Based on co-operative principles the UK’s LETS schemes have revitalised communities, dissolving barriers of social and financial exclusion, offering new opportunity for all, enhancing people’s skills, supporting local economies and benefiting the environment.

The Prime Minister’s flagship Social Exclusion Unit put LETS at the top of their agenda for neighbourhood and community economic renewal (’Bringing Britain Together’). Tony Blair has also endorsed LETS as “showing the way” in his speech to the NCVO, for rebuilding human and social capital and “making the links between rebuilding communities and rebuilding economic opportunity.”

Supported by MP Linda Gilroy and the Parliamentary Group for LETS, we ran a national campaign to amend social security regulations for LETS with the Ministers for Employment and Social Security. Although the matter has not been resolved entirely, in practice there have been very few difficulties posed by DHSS offices for individual LETS members. Where difficulties have occurred they have been successfully challenged.

LETSlink UK inspired exchange networks have been established in over 1,000 localities from Iceland to Albania. We also advise NGOs and community groups in Eastern Europe, Africa, India, Japan and elsewhere on developing their own appropriate forms of local exchange … (full text).

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