UK LETS and Complementary Currencies
Development Agency


published by

SW LETS 28th June 2003
Palace Gate Centre, Exeter

Present: (Name - LETS group /Other organisation)
Woody N - London LETSlink UK
Rob Follet - Falmouth
Chris Cook- LETSlink UK
Diana - Salisbury
Adrian Estment - Ashley (Bristol)
Michael - Kingsbridge
Madelaine Paats - Exeter
Elizabeth J - Exeter
Alex Lawrie - South Somerset /UpStart Workers Co-op
Michael Colebrook - Plymouth

1. Transition
As this was the first meeting for a year, we reviewed past history and assessed where we were. The loss of a key activist had caused a suspension of activity, and the regional level needs to be rebuilt.

2. Health of LETS

Contrasting reports; some schemes like S Somerset are flourishing, while others like Kingsbridge are thriving. We shared some good ideas for reviving LETS schemes, looked at some fundraisers and popular services, and identified needs for outside support.

Ideas: - Accept disagreement in the core group as healthy - Respond to local needs - Recruit businesses/organisations - Regular social events - When setting a rate, cover cash costs of providing services - Day long events - Build up a full core group - don't rely on one or two people - Consult your members regularly - Have a reliable point of contact - Meet basic needs - Identify 'intermediate labour markets' - Be mainstream-friendly - Resolve conflicts and controversies - Internal email group - 'Buddy' with non-email folk - Phone rounds - Separate lists for work parties /rapid response - Welcome new members personally

Fundraisers: Workers Beer Co, Local Authority, Co-op community Dividend, Therapies Dday

Popular services : Therapies, pet minding, food, electrician, work parties, fast food delivery, plants, cafes/shops trading partly in LETS, phone calls, plumbing, optician, printer, hiring tools, car pool, car sales, music lessons, tuition

Support needs: Involving people with disabilities - Working in deprived communities - Regional contact/office - Support conflict resolution - Setting up IT systems - Regional trading website - Liability insurance

We reiterated our support for the CELT, while recognising the need to improve supply, support and admin. Thanks to Rob for the great website.


4. Timebanks and Co-ops
We discussed the relationship between the established LETS movement and the fast growing and well funded Timebanks. Some concerns were expressed about the top down organisation of some timebanks and their limitations as alternative trading systems. We noted the close similarities in values and the clarity they have achieved on the worth of a time dollar. We agreed the following consensus statement:

"We are keen to work with Timebanks and Timebanks UK for mutual benefit. Where LETS schemes already have the key features of a timebank (in particular, the value of the currency linked to hours) we hope that they will be able to share the various benefits available to timebanks. While working with national organisations and funding programmes, it is important to us that individual LETS schemes retain local autonomy and self reliance. We are interested in looking at whether a regional structure can be established that represents and supports both LETS and Timebanks.


5. Image and publicity
We brainstormed a number of ideas for developing publicity both ideas for local groups and possible regional and national initiatives.

- Leaflet templates help local groups generate high quality publicity
- see Scottish LETS.
- Free info packs (LETSlink UK have had to charge for them previously)
- Press releases and photo opportunities
- Publicity via other organisations, eg NEF
- Listings in phone books
- Phone Co-op 0845 numbers can get free entries
- Community websites can be linked to your group‚s website
- Green Events S Devon
- Free what's on listings
- BGG news, radio, and www
- Use local shop fronts, eg community services, wholefood shops, Credit Union collection points, Colleges and Schools, Libraries
- Get the right Œtags‚ on your website so as to be visible to search engines (NB seven out of 10 new members in one SW LETS group joined via the net)
- Social economy lists
- Community Councils
- Local Agenda 21

6. Fundraising
What would we fundraise for? We agreed that this was not so much of an issue for local groups though they might have specific projects or relaunches that could get one-off funding eg from Co-op Community Dividend. We looked more at the possibility of fundraising at a regional level for a new SW LETS federation a democratic body accountable to local groups.

Things that were suggested included: Shared publishing resources - Posters, displays, leaflets - CELT production - ŒBroker‚ for labour - Training IT for LETS, ideas for development - Regional contact point - Shared transport - Travel expenses for meetings -SW LETS gathering - Mobile development worker - County meetings - Reports, publications, research - Courses in skills shortage areas - Feasibility studies for LETS businesses - Networking with agencies, NGOs - NVQ3 Enterprise for Everyone (a new qualification that could be gained while being a member of a core group) - Many of these are one off, project funding which wouldn't make us - dependent. However, we should be aware that ongoing expenses can leave us - vulnerable to cuts in core funding. Maybe these should be seen as - transitional, helping us to get to a position where self reliance is - possible; or possibly they will enable us to continually move up to - increasingly reliable sources of funding.

In any event, there was general agreement that some kind of legal structure for SW LETS was necessary, and that it should have a democratic / co-operative structure open to both individuals and groups. A company limited by guarantee is cheap, tried and tested; another possibility is the new limited liability partnership, or the proposed community interest company. We agreed that we should consult widely, explain why this step is desirable and look at possible rules and structures. In order for a large number of SW LETS groups and members to sign up, we need to show it will deliver tangible benefits.

The approach to be taken to fundraising was left open for the time being. It might involve a volunteer fundraiser, a paid fundraiser, a fundraiser on commission, or a bid in partnership with other organisation where they do most of the work. Some kind of partnership will almost certainly add to the effectiveness of the bid (partners might include the Co-op Group, SW Co-op and Mutual Council, Co-op Support Organisations, Local Authorities and others). We considered gaining charitable status in order to benfit from gift aid, and it was felt that it probably was not appropriate at this stage. Wealthy benefactors were also suggested as a possible source, but no one knew any.

7. Future events
Our next meeting will be on Saturday 20th September, also at the Palace Gate Centre in Exeter (NB the final cost for the room was £26 slightly higher than expected). Alex Lawrie to book premises. We need to network to ensure a good attendance: please ensure that this appears in LETS newsletters everywhere! Bristol are offering to host a SW gathering in spring / summer 2004. This was broadly supported by the meeting, though it was noted that we were a far from representative group.
There may also be a national camp next year in the SW; LETSlink UK are looking into options.

Written by Alex Laurie and
circulated on the Southwest email list on
Wednesda, 02 Juy 2003 12:28:10 +0100

© Published by LETSlink UK, 12 Southcote Road, Tufnell Park, London N19 5BJ