Alternative currency: the Brixton Pound

Alternative currency lowdown: the Brixton Pound


The Brixton Pound launched in 2009 and is a locally used currency designed to stay in Brixton, and bolster the local economy. Rather than replacing Pound Sterling, the Brixton Pound works alongside it to support local trade and production.


How does that work?

A local currency, like the Brixton Pound, gives people an incentive to spend in their local area, helping to support small business and develop the community. It is a not-for-profit, so the benefits are solely for the shops and the customers who use it.

People are more aware of the power that their spending has on Brixton and, by using the Brixton Pound, it gives locals the ability to influence their area.

The Brixton Pound also celebrates the local community through the designs featured, which has recently included a 5-year anniversary edition designed by the Artist Jeremy Deller. View the designs and people featured on the notes.

Residents simply stop by one of the seven issuing points or can pay through an app on their phones.


Why do it?

Small independent shops and traders struggle when competing with larger chain stores, and while money spent in chain stores in good for the economy as a whole, it is taking it away from the local economy.

According to research, money spent with independent business stays circulating up to three times longer than when spent with national chains. Effectively, local money goes further!

Some business offer discounts for using the currency too, saving you money.

Alternative currency: the Brixton Pound


Why Brixton?

Brixton was the first urban location to try this out but isn’t the only local currency in the UK – the first were in Totnes, Lewes and Stroud, and you can now find them in Bristol and coming soon in Oxford and Exeter.


Wouldn’t the Bank of England have something to say about all this extra money?

The Bank of England considers local currencies like the Brixton Pound to be similar in legal terms to vouchers. Although they are careful to make this distinction, the Bank of England does see how they can benefit the local economy and supports this.


Why now?

Alternative currencies aren’t a new idea. A social reformer called Robert Owen introduced ‘labour notes’ in 1832 to pay workers the number of hours they spent to create units of production.

More alternatives popped up 1890 and the 1930s during the Great Depression in the US and Austria.


Where can I buy some?

You can pick up the Brixton Pound at one of their local issuing points or use the B£e app.


Do you use the Brixton Pound or another local alternative currency? Let us know in the comments – or join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook with #ikanomics.

Image: thanks to H G on Flickr.


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