The Local Exchange Trading Scheme (LETS) is a barter system. It has been going in Birmingham for at least ten years now. It is empowering and keeps value in the local community. It also enables us to create value at the point of exchange. It helps people to realise their worth, that we all have something to contribute. When you join LETS, you trade your time, skills, goods and services with other members, and you earn “hearts” (the local currency), which you can then spend on more goods and services. You don’t need to have any hearts in your account to trade; there is no debt – we call it “commitment”; there is no interest.
LETS is now worldwide and each district has a local currency named by local people. The West Midlands’ currency is called “hearts”, Brighton’s is called “benefits” and Calderdale’s is called “favours”. All local currencies are exchangeable.
LETS is useful for those who have little money; also it is possible to get services on LETS that you cannot get from the normal economy, or at least more affordably. The range includes plumbing, carpentry, general DIY, therapies, recycling and mending, hair-dying, music-reading lessons, personalised computer tuition and problem-solving. Some people offer lifts, reading aloud, parent-sitting, waiting in for the gasman and befriending. Books, games and power tools are also lent out. All this means that people contact each other and this helps to create a local community. Local businesses can use a mixture of sterling money and LETS currency.
LETS keeps stuff out of landfill. It promotes local activity rather than unnecessary transportation of goods, services and people. It will be an integral part of the future Green Society.