LETS and Benefit Claiming in the UK: Results of a Pilot Project

One of the most contentious aspects of the debate about Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) concerns the benefit system. Whereas other nations have amended the rules of their social security systems in order to facilitate participation in LETS, this has not been the case in the UK. This article is based upon a short, pilot project conducted at the turn of the millennium. It involved a series of interviews with LETS members and with national politicians who had publicly expressed an interest in LETS because of the benefit implications, whether real or perceived. We found evidence of claimants either not joining LETS or, of those who did join or became claimants whilst belonging to a LETS, keeping their LETS-related activities at a modest level. LETS members are clear that the benefit system must change to accommodate their needs and interests.

Tony Fitzpatrick Volume 4(2000) 6

IJCCR Vol 4 (2000) 6 Fitzpatrick

To cite this article: Fitzpatrick, T. (2000) ‘LETS and Benefit Claiming in the UK: Results of a Pilot Project’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 4 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2000.002

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The Economics of Local Exchange and Trading Systems: a Theoretical Perspective

This paper sets out to describe and analyse Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) in economic terms. A LETS performs three main functions: the provision of transaction management services, credit, and market matching. LETS is an alternative form of money. A LETS is in (economic) theory attractive because: it provides cheap and flexible credit; allows the marketing of labour time in small disperse quantities without the need for an employer or capital; and, because its money function is locally contained, it can potentially alleviate some of the welfare implications of external shocks and structural interregional trade-imbalances. This feature operates through reviving local exchange of non-tradables by providing a medium of exchange. Unfortunately, current research does not provide a good basis for testing the validity of these potential functions of LETS because LETS is a heterotopia, of which the membership is neither representative of the population, nor primarily economically motivated.

Jorim Schraven Volume 4(2000) 5

IJCCR Vol 4 (2000) 5 Schraven

Towards an Economy in the Hands of the People: The Tianguis Tlaloc Local Currency System in Mexico

The Tianguis Tlaloc local currency system, first initiated in 1994 and re-initiated in 1996 is the one of the longest-running community currency systems in the global south. The system is a hybrid LETS-HOURS design, which is to say a system of “cheque-notes” withdrawn from accounts. At the time of writing it was the only known system of its type in the world. However, no analysis of the operation of the Tianguis Tlaloc system had been conducted, and no systematic effort to gather participant’s opinions of the Tianguis Tlaloc program had been conducted after several years of operation. Thus, a research project was proposed to analyze the operation of the system, and meet with the participants in face-to-face interviews. Both the analysis of the function of the system, and the interviews with participants provided useful information for taking the Tianguis Tlaloc from the experimentation stage to confident operation. The distinction between the Tlaloc, and the LETS/HOURS systems in the global north are also made very clear. The success of the goals of fostering mutual aid, independent self-development, pride in culture and the creation of a new socio-political space at the site of the marketplace were enhanced by the research which suggested changes to the Tlaloc system function and scope.

Luis Lopezllera-Mendez and Stephen DeMeulenaere Volume 4(2000) 4

IJCCR Vol 4 (2000) 4 Lopezllera-Mendez and DeMeulenaere

To cite this article: Lopezllera-Mendez, L.; DeMeulenaere, S. (2000) ‘Towards an Economy in the Hands of the People: The Tianguis Tlaloc Local Currency System in Mexico’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 4 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2000.003

Reinventing the Market: Alternative Currencies and Community Development in Argentina

Up until now, the vast majority of research on community currencies has focused upon their development in advanced economies. The aim of this short article, however, is to present some evidence on the growth of community currencies outside these western advanced economies. Reporting on the Global Exchange Network in Argentina, this paper shows how in just five years, this has exploded from a neighbourhood group of 20 people to a national network of 500 groups with over 230,000 participants exchanging skills, knowledge, goods and services. In so doing, it shows how “multi-reciprocal exchange”, facilitated not by Argentine Pesos but an alternative local currency, is growing in popularity not only in ‘northern’ advanced economies but also ‘southern’ nations.

Stephen DeMeulenaere Volume 4(2000) 3

IJCCR Vol 4 (2000) 3 DeMeulenaere

To cite this article: DeMeulenaere, S. (2000) ‘Reinventing the Market: Alternative Currencies and Community Development in Argentina’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 4 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2000.004

Community-based LETSystems in Australia: Localised Barter in a Sophisticated Western Economy

Modern domestic barter systems are operating in Australia and other high income countries at the local community level, and at the national level for business exchanges. These exchange regimes appear to have become institutionalised in a macro-marketing system that is organised on the primacy of market exchange based on price as the co-ordinating device. This points to widespread imperfections in various markets at the local level, and in particular, in markets for credit and labour. In this paper, the nature of Australian community-based LETSystems is discussed and some results from a national survey in Australia of LETS members are presented. The interface between LETSystems, the federal taxation system and the social security system in Australia is introduced.

Peter W. Liesch and Dawn Birch Volume 4(2000) 2

IJCCR Vol 4 (2000) 2 Liesch and Birch

To cite this article: Liesch, P.W.; Birch, D. (2000) ‘Community-based LETSystems in Australia: Localised Barter in a Sophisticated Western Economy’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 4 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2000.005

Why Do People Join Local Exchange Trading Systems?

The literature dealing with LETS has regarded them primarily as economic associations and, in so doing, may have overlooked other features of LETS that are equally important. This paper aims to rectify some of that neglect by focusing upon the motivational values of LETS members. Whilst it has been recognised that a significant proportion of their membership can be identified as ‘Green’, the radical consequences of this membership has been neither fully recognised nor explored. This paper offers a taxonomy that enables us to locate and classify members’ motivations and does so with particular reference to Green ideals. It argues that to dismiss LETS as simply an expression of an alternative lifestyle may ignore the fact that a significant proportion of members are aware of, and wish to promote, the radical Green potential of these schemes. Given the current lack of practical Green alternatives within social policy this potential should not go unrecognised and the paper is presented as an attempt to open up areas for further debate.

Caron Caldwell Volume 4(2000) 1

IJCCR Vol 4 (2000) 1 Caldwell

To cite this article: Caldwell, C. (2000) ‘Why Do People Join Local Exchange Trading Systems?’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 4 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2000.006