UK Local Exchange Trading and Complementary Currencies
Development Agency




Research on LETS

LETSlink last surveyed its own members in about 1995. Over the years there has been a whole series of studies by researchers at all levels, both from the UK and overseas - in fact a new syndrome called "researched-out" has been identified! Seriously though, it seems that much more funding has gone into studying the efforts of LETS organisers, often using information provided by Letslink UK, than has ever been spent on supporting their work, and very few results have been fed back for their information. So one purpose of this page is to provide a place where as an organisation we can collectively link with individual researchers, at least by archiving their work, which might avoid some of the re-inventing of wheels, both for researchers and LETS organisers.

Why is there such a fascination with local currencies? They capture the imagination not only because of the determination of participants to "make a difference" in their communities, but also because however small and inconsequential they may seem, they are considered to be practical experiments in the field of monetary reform. The importance of this subject cannot be exaggerated, and it is the main thesis of the Global Justice Movement that the only way of ending war and starvation is to change the system at its roots. The main reference for research in the UK is the International Journal of Community Currency Research, edited by Professor Colin Williams, University of Leicester Management Centre (ULMC), and Graham R Irwin. Its Discussion List produces a steady stream of radical offerings. Colin Williams has also set up which presents essential background reading.

Research by Letslink UK
At LETSlink UK we focus on the the practicalities of helping our members to make LETS work as a tool for community development. In support of this aim, we have adopted a co-operative model of research in order to maximise the benefit to LETS organisers. So far we are unfunded in this endeavour, and any funding we accept will be based on continuing the approach that the priority is to educate ourselves in order to improve our own performance. The current draft list of topics is as follows, reflecting questions already proposed, and a start has been made:

1. Individuals' involvement with and views of LETS: experiences and objective analyses - LETS and Social Justice - some work has been done recently on this by a university researcher - we will report the results as soon as possible.

2. LETS Groups "Health Check" - LIVE! - go to: Questionnaire No 1
includes estimated reports on how LETS schemes are doing as well as statistical data on trading, and how they communicate with their neighbours.

3. Mapping LETS & Timebanks - locations and contact details - legal structures of LETS & Timebanks - involvement with Local Authorities and other Funders - identifying needs of LETS organisers that can be supplied by a national body.

4. LETS Organisers - details of administrative procedures - documenting computer systems already in in use - discovering whether and how groups keep the system account in balance - credit and debit controls - problems and remedial action - establishing the need for a new integrated "standard" software.

5. Building up the Archive - recording our own history and development - legal case histories - the benefits campaign - research reports - key events in the movement.

6. LETS and Sustainability - developing the enterprise model of LETS - involvement with local food production - trading of food items - catering and cafes - box schemes - Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and LETS

NB The plan is to send members (individuals and representatives of schemes as appropriate) detailed questionnaires on each of the above topics sequentially - and the results will be reported upon at each stage before moving to the next topic. If you have ideas to prioritise, add to or amend the list at any stage (NB this list is an ongoing draft), please contact us:

Researchers are welcome to add papers to this file







Queries? News? Want to join?