You are on page 1of 211

Letslink Scotland


LETSlink Scotland


Letslink Scotland


Page 1


Page 2


Your local community is a pool of talent

waiting to be tapped.
This kit will help you release that potential!

First Published in 2002 by LETSlink Scotland,

Balallan House, 24 Allan Park, Stirling FK8 2QG.
LETSlink Scotland 2002
The right of LETSlink Scotland to be asserted as the author of this publication, video and CDROM has been
asserted under the UK Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.


Stewart Noble
Lesley Robertson, David Robertson

All rights reserved

Graphic Design Lesley Black

Letslink Scotland
Page 3


Page 4


LET Systems are full of stories

Martin thought he would have a change of direction and at the age of thirty five, went
back to University for a Business Degree. He studied recycling and the creation of
social businesses. When he came back into the jobs market he found that his age was
a disadvantage and he struggled to find both work and a role in his community. He kept
busy by volunteering for Friends of the Earth and helping at the youth club and through
a fortuitous meeting with a local LETS member got involved in an organisation providing
work therapy for people with mental health problems.
When his knowledge and skills became apparent the organisation paid him in local
currency to develop a business plan for a furniture recycling operation and their local
Council partners offered cash.
Martin started trading on the LET System with his new found wealth, he bought vegetables
from Gillians allotment, got Raj to fix his bike, engaged Ruth to give his daughter Maths
lessons, paid for a dance night and bid for an oil painting at a LETS auction.
Meanwhile the Council were so pleased with his first business plan they employed him
to write two more. His experience led him directly to a new job and in the process he
developed a stronger network of friends in his community.
There are lots of Martins, Gillians, Rajs and Ruths out there.
You too have a community of talents waiting to be tapped.

Page 5


Page 6


Foreword....................................................................................................................... 11
Lets Systems across Scotland ..................................................................................... 13
Contact details for LETS in Scotland ............................................................................14

Section 1: Beginnings ..................................................................................... 17

A Local Exchange Trading System in action ............................................................... 19
The trouble with money ................................................................................................21
Plugging the leaks ........................................................................................................ 22
Why start a community exchange? ............................................................................... 23
The Scottish local exchange model .............................................................................25

Section 2: Creating a local exchange ........................................................... 29

First steps ..................................................................................................................... 29
Preparing for the launch ................................................................................................30
Useful resources...........................................................................................................32
Yourtown LETS Membership Leaflet ........................................................................... 33
Yourtown LETS constitution .......................................................................................... 35
Yourtown LETS members agreement & rules of LETS ................................................39
Summary of first steps ..................................................................................................41
Planning your Launch Party .......................................................................................... 42
Start-up Funding ............................................................................................................ 43
Launch Party Programme .............................................................................................44
Appendix 1
Sample Local Exchange Trading System Constitution ...................................... 47

Section 3: Spreading the Word ..................................................................... 53

Use the Directory ..........................................................................................................53
Word of Mouth ..............................................................................................................53
Community Notice Boards ............................................................................................ 54
Telephone Trees...........................................................................................................54
The Internet ................................................................................................................... 54
Directories & Newsletters .............................................................................................55
Designing your directory and newsletter ...................................................................... 56
Publicity & the media ....................................................................................................58
Appendix 2
Sample Press Release ...................................................................................... 63
Appendix 3
Publicity Example ...............................................................................................64
Appendix 4
Newsletter Example ........................................................................................... 65

Page 7


Section 4: LETS Accounting ......................................................................... 73

The Transaction Cycle ..................................................................................................74
LETS administration tasks .............................................................................................75
Membership record keeping .......................................................................................75
Recording Exchange transactions................................................................................ 78
Member Trading Statements ........................................................................................79
Members Trading Summary .........................................................................................79
LETS System Accounts ................................................................................................80
Generating LETS income for your system ................................................................... 81
Balancing the LETS budget .......................................................................................... 82
LETS statements ...........................................................................................................84
Yourtown LETS Trading Statement ...............................................................................86
Yourtown LETS Trading Summary ................................................................................87
LETS software ...............................................................................................................89
Appendix 5
LOIS Lets Office Integration System ...............................................................90
LET SAM System Administration Manager .....................................................91
Appendix 6
Sample welcome letter ......................................................................................93

Section 5: Managing old money ................................................................ 97

Introduction.................................................................................................................... 97
Banking the money .......................................................................................................97
Accounting for the money ............................................................................................. 98
Managing the money .................................................................................................. 100
Management account analysis ................................................................................... 101
Appendix 7
LETS Sterling Treasurer job description .......................................................... 103
Appendix 8
Sample Treasurers cash account ledger ......................................................... 104
Appendix 9
Sample Treasurers year-end summary............................................................ 105
Generating old money .............................................................................................. 106
The LETS quiz night .................................................................................................... 106
Project funding ............................................................................................................ 108
Funding advice ........................................................................................................... 108
Funders ....................................................................................................................... 108
Government funding ................................................................................................... 108
Useful reference materials: ......................................................................................... 109
Project design ............................................................................................................ 110
Basic Components of a Proposal .............................................................................. 111
Case Study ................................................................................................................. 111
Appendix 10
Project Title: LETS Recycle in Kincardine ....................................................... 112
Appendix 11
Example grant application to a Local Authority ................................................ 115
Application to Stirling Council Community Grant Fund ..................................... 116
Appendix 12
Sample cheque design .................................................................................... 119
Page 8


Section 6: Growing your system................................................................. 123

Building your Core Group ........................................................................................... 123
Team building skills .................................................................................................... 124
Making Meetings Effective ......................................................................................... 124
Making Meetings Fun ................................................................................................. 128
Germination ................................................................................................................. 130
Growth 50 150 members ........................................................................................... 131
Maturity 150 300 active members ............................................................................ 132
Division; 300 + active trading members ..................................................................... 133
Organising Events ...................................................................................................... 135
Inter-trading ................................................................................................................. 135

Section 7: Case Studies................................................................................ 139

Case Study: New Moray LETS ................................................................................... 141
Background ...................................................................................................... 141
The Beginning .................................................................................................. 141
Core Group ....................................................................................................... 143
Regular Events ................................................................................................. 144
Devolved Accounts .......................................................................................... 144
Exchange Limits ............................................................................................... 144
Balancing Accounts .......................................................................................... 145
Problems and Solutions ................................................................................... 145
Case Study: Stirling & Alloa LETS.............................................................................. 149
Background ...................................................................................................... 149
Beginnings ....................................................................................................... 149
Lets Make it Better ........................................................................................... 150
Having a public focus for LETS Trading ........................................................... 151
Enthusiasm and Exhaustion ............................................................................. 152
SAL and Social Inclusion ................................................................................. 153
The Core Group ................................................................................................ 153
Problems and Solutions ................................................................................... 154
Future ................................................................................................................ 154

Section 8: LETS get legal ............................................................................. 157

Income tax .................................................................................................................. 157
Value Added Tax (VAT) ............................................................................................... 159
LETS and welfare benefits .......................................................................................... 160
LETS and insurance .................................................................................................... 163
LETS and data protection ........................................................................................... 165

Page 9


Page 10


LETSlink Scotland is a Company Ltd by Guarantee whose members and Directors over
the last ten years have worked to build and strengthen local exchange trading across
Between October 1999 and September 2002 LETSlink Scotland operated a Community
Fund supported project to survey, learn from and support local exchange trading. The
culmination of this project has been the production of this comprehensive guide to
LETS development and administration and the creation of a LETSlink Scotland Website.
The Community Fund in Scotland recognised the role that local exchange can play in
building community cohesion, overcoming exclusion and contributing to sustainable
development. LETSlink Scotland members and Directors would like to thank the
Community Fund for its support.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation have also provided important financial assistance
for the publication of the kit.
Finally, the staff of LETSlink Scotland have done an excellent job to distil their accumulated
knowledge into what is possibly the most comprehensive guide to local exchange
trading ever produced. Thanks are due therefore to Editor Stewart Noble, to staff
members Lesley Rowan and David Robertson, who have made significant contributions
and to Board member Jane Gray and others who have advised on the content.
To you, the reader, good luck and good trading.

Letslink Scotland
Page 11


Page 12


Lets Systems across Scotland

Page 13


Contact details for LETS in Scotland




Arran LETS

Julie Gurr

0845 4584180

Ayrshire LETS

Andrea Jones

01563 543585

Dumfriesshire LETS

Jane Gray

01683 221403

Dundee LETS

Susan Meek

01382 738040

East Lothian LETS

Isabelle Lumholt

01620 829739

Easter Ross LETS

Steve Paget

01349 854510

Edinburgh LETS

Joelle Marlow

0131 229 0061

Ellon LETS

Lisa Leith

01358 742430

Findhorn & Kinloss LETS Nicole Edmonds

01309 691408

Helensburgh LETS

Ron Morrison

01436 672592


Inverness LETS

Brigit Hees

01463 811864


Keith LETS

Jane Cotton

01343 569440


Kincardine LETS

Fiona Campbell

01259 731174


Kyles of Bute LETS

Selina Robertson

01700 811644


Hanna-Rose Scott 01968 673576


New Moray LETS

Stewart Noble

01309 676128


North Fife LETS

Shireen Brown

01382 543551


Orkney LETS

Jayne Traynor

01856 701266


South Ayrshire LETS

Len Collingwood

01292 619600


Stewartry LETS

Clive Donovan

01644 450209


Stirling & Alloa LETS

Chrissie Woods

01786 475459


West Glasgow LETS

Patrick Boase

0141 339 3064


West Lothian LETS

Jim Dixon

01506 655876


Page 14




Section 1: Beginnings

Section 1:

Page 15

Section 1: Beginnings

Page 16

Section 1: Beginnings

So you want to find out how to create, organise or improve a LET System
in your Community?
LETSlink Scotland has observed, surveyed and learned from visiting and working with
Scottish LET Systems over a three-year period. The result of this continuing process
has been carefully distilled into this development pack. We have designed the contents
in topic card format so that the topics can be easily referenced and shared between
other members of your LETS group. As we learn more we will add to the information in
the pack and change the materials accessible on our website.
The range and variation of Community Exchanges is growing all of the time. Local
Exchange Trading Systems are only one form of a wide range of exchange organisations.
These include barter systems, swap shops and time banks. AS part of the social economy,
this is very much an experimental sector and new techniques are being discovered as
the sector grows.
We have tried to cover the essentials you will need to get started. Wherever possible
we have included practical materials that you can copy and edit for quick and easy
distribution. The accompanying CD ROM contains the text of the information cards and
lots of other articles and reference materials. The training video focuses on the
development of a local exchange community.
This is your LET System, you are going to build it to serve the community you live in.
Dip into this toolbox of ideas and fashion the organisation that will work best in your
community. LETSlink Scotland is here to help.

LETSLink Scotland Staff:

Lesley Rowan, David Robertson and Stewart Noble

Page 17

Section 1: Beginnings

Page 18

Section 1: Beginnings

A Local Exchange Trading System in action

This is a true story about how one LETS job has created a chain reaction of goodwill
in an ordinary street, creating new friendships along the way. Stewart explains it
I live in Woodside Drive, a street of around 100 houses in a new housing estate in
Forres. Our homes are mostly detached bungalows nestled among beautiful mature
woodlands. Most of my neighbours are professionals who work away during the day
and who rarely have the time to talk to each other.
I am an active supporter of our local organic box scheme - EarthShare - who supply me
with a lovely box of fresh local vegetables every week for just 3 and 2 LETS. As I dont
use a car it is difficult for me to collect my box from the pick up point each week. I asked
my retired neighbour Walter, if he would deliver my box to me in return for a few LETS
each week. So he joined the scheme.
The following week Walter delivered my box to my back door and noticing the sad state
of the vegetables stored in our warm kitchen. He suggested that I should really store the
vegetables in a cool area. Ill make you a veggie cupboard for outside for LETS if you
like he offered. I had earned plenty of LETS helping others so I agreed. The following
week he came round to fit our great new veggie store that he made for me in his tool
shed. For just 150L it has transformed our kitchen clutter and it keeps our veggies fresh
much longer.

Walterss wife Lucyna is a teacher in our local school and happened to mention that they
would really like someone to make some new seat covers. They were quoted 280 by
a mail order service. I put them in touch with Karen down the street who I knew offered
sewing in our LETS system. Karen is a busy mum with three children and a new mortgage.
There are few flexible job opportunities in our area and Karen was delighted to help and
earn 100 LETS with which she will pay for joinery repairs to her new house.
Lucyna and Karens husband Kryztof soon discovered they had something in common
- they are both Polish! With the extra LETS she earned Karen bought some pond liner
at the last LETS Trade Fair and will stock it with plants from Sonyas garden at the end of
the street.
Sonya is a recent member whos husband Kevin works abroad. Although a qualified
nurse with green fingers she confesses that she is no good at DIY and she could do with
a hand with some odd jobs around the house. Walter was delighted to help out again.
Sonya also bakes bread and gives lifts to work for my wife, Alison. She delivers two
hot-from-the-oven loaves to us every week for just 3 LETS. The LETS she receives, she
swapped for her DIY.
Page 19

Section 1: Beginnings

Margaret, Sonyas neighbour, is an industrious lady whose husband is bedridden with

M.S. Margaret shares eggs from the chickens she keeps in the back garden and she is
also a great cook. Once a week she delivers a home made meal to Sonya. Margaret
has been planning to create a spare room for visitors in her attic and needs help lining
the walls and floor. Enter yours truly with on hand expertise and tools from Walter.

Kevin, three doors along is an American rocket scientist (he really is!) who loves repairing
bicycles so ours will soon be in his shed for their annual MOT. So, my 150 LETS have
bounced around our street and come full circle. On its way it has helped to create my
great veggie box, new seat covers, a wildlife pond, bread, eggs and meals, DIY, bicycle
repairs, garden plants and an attic conversion and the LETS tokens are still cycling.
More importantly however we have created new friendships amongst our neighbours.
There are now 8 LETS members in my street and we are talking about organising a
street event and party this summer. Our social economy is booming.

Page 20

Section 1: Beginnings

The trouble with money

This we know:
were stressed out,
exhausted. We have
less time for our
families than we feel we
should have.
We feel less connected
to our communities
than we ever did ...
Yet we feel also like
hollow citizens, too
weary to respond to
any political entreaty
with anything other
than a shrug. In short,
we are workers.

People need a means of exchange so that they can trade with each other. That means
of exchange should be easy to use, fairly administered, available to everyone and
directed to meeting real needs without leading to exploitation or unsustainable
consumption. The trouble with money is that it does not do this. That is why we need
local exchange trading systems.
There is never enough money! This is as true in rural as in urban areas and its especially
true within socially excluded groups. As globalisation progresses, it is becoming harder
for local businesses to compete with their multinational competitors. Multinational
corporations and the Internet may offer one stop shopping and cheaper prices but the
total cost of spending out of town includes the cost of lost jobs, despair and poverty.
Many traditional skills and services are no longer economically viable. Ironically these
are often the very skills that help to bind a local community together.
Global wealth is created by imposing debt on others. For every person in credit there
are many more in debt and paying unpredictable levels of interest repayments for the
privilege. This burden of debt is rising across Europe as well as many third world
countries and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Most of those fortunate enough
to have a secure job are working harder for less. Stress levels in the workplace and the
costs of managing social unrest and inequalities are increasing.

Global money can be earned locally but spent abroad.

It can easily be earned legally but spent illegally.
It is vulnerable to global economic terrorism and unpredictable global events.
Its value is uncertain, depending on the vagaries of the stock market, inflation
and currency traders.
It is hard to earn by certain social groups, (young, retired, unemployed, people
with physical or learning difficulties).
It is expensive to use due to costly bank charges.
It is prone to theft.
It is generally hidden. (No one knows who has more than they need and who
needs to earn more).
It has come to represent power. Those who have none are deemed to be
The pursuit of this power is resulting in environmental destruction, exploitation
of labour and sequestration of national assets by multinational companies.

We all face the same basic problems with the cash economy: money is so much easier
to spend than to earn, and there is not enough cash to meet everyones needs.
If you picture your finances as a bucket, the fill level in the bucket is a measure of your
economic health. A full bucket and you have lots of choices. A nearly empty bucket
and you are frantically struggling to top it up before your money runs out. It is the same
whether your income is from welfare benefits or from export sales. And whether your
outgoings have to cover food and rent or a payroll of 500 and a loan on your factory. The
buckets may look different but the problem is the same. If you rely on currency that is
created by someone else - a bank or a government - you lose control of much more
than your money.
Page 21

Section 1: Beginnings

Communities where the traditional industries are no longer in demand find there is more
money flowing out of the area than coming in. As the amount of money available locally
decreases so does the amount of trading. Local businesses fail and increasing numbers
of people are unemployed. This is not because the people have nothing to offer, but
simply because there is no money in the community to pay them with.

Plugging the leaks

Plugging the leaks is a New Economics Foundation initiative designed to draw attention
to the fact that when government, community fund or charitable grants are poured into an
area, the money often just pours back to more prosperous areas.
The Leaky Bucket
Money leaks out of an economy in many different ways

Social Services

Profits to non
local owners
Bank savings
and interest payments

From the New Economics Foundation Plugging the Leaks initiative.

The Multiplier
An economic measurement tool called the multiplier is a useful way to calculate the
overall impact of spending money in the local economy. In a community in which all the
money that enters the economy immediately leaves it again, the multiplier will be only 1.
If a pound enters the area, only the original owner benefits. In a healthy community
where money is re-spent over and over again, the multiplier is much higher many
people benefit from the first pound before it eventually leaves the community. Plugging
the Leaks is all about communities trying to increase the number of times money changes
hands before leaving the area.
Why not examine your local economy and see if you recognise the many ways in which
cash simply flows out:

The Regeneration Umbrella and Funnel

Is your regeneration funding being poured into an area, only to flow straight out again? If
so, its as if there is an umbrella covering the area, so funding flows off the edge into the
richer surrounding areas. Do all those housing improvement contracts go to firms outside
the area? Or is money being poured carefully through a funnel, so that most of the
money actually stays in the poorer area?

Are the businesses in your area bathtubs, hoovers or dustbins?

Bathtub businesses collect and re-circulate money in the local economy employing
local people, buying local goods and services, and keeping profits locally. Hoovers
Page 22

Section 1: Beginnings

may employ local people, but they also take money from the local economy and deposit
it elsewhere. Dustbins exploit a local resource: they may employ local people, but they
disturb the social or environmental fabric of the area while sending profits elsewhere.
So the trick of sustainable local economic development is to create bathtubs while
avoiding hoovers and dustbins.

Why start a community exchange?

My Community
Exchange has enabled
me to do things I
wouldnt have been
able to. Its brilliant
because anyone can
become involved. Now
I have a family of
over 50 people to
exchange with and to
ask for help when I
need it.

If you have read the trouble with money, you will realize that local currencies act
like funnels and bathtubs to ensure that the energy generated by the community
stays within the community and circulates endlessly.
By creating a local exchange mechanism people can continue to trade, continue to maintain
their quality of life, and continue to feel that their contribution to the community is valued.
Local exchange is not designed to replace the cash economy, but to complement it.
Local exchange currencies, whether as barter units or as units of time, are created by
those who trade with it. The only limit on the amount of exchange that can be created is
the imagination and the work-rate of those who choose to join in.
People start LET Systems because money has failed their community, made it less
caring and friendly, denied them an opportunity to contribute, and blocked the way to a
sustainable future.




One view of community is of three concentric circles: the economy exists within society,
and both the economy and society exist within the environment.
As the diagram illustrates, the economy exists entirely within society, because all parts
of the human economy require interaction among people. However, society is much
more than just the economy. Friends and families, music and art, religion and ethics are
important elements of society, but are not solely based on exchanging goods and services.
Society, in turn, exists entirely within the environment. Our basic requirements air,
food and water come from the environment, as do the energy and raw materials for
housing, transportation and the products we depend on.
Finally, the environment surrounds society. At an earlier point in human history, the
environment largely determined the shape of society. Today the opposite is true: human
Page 23

Section 1: Beginnings

activity is reshaping the environment at an ever-increasing rate. The parts of the

environment unaffected by human activity are getting smaller all the time. However,
because people need food, water and air to survive, society can never be larger than
the environment.
Sustainability requires managing all households individual, community, national, and
global in ways that ensure that our economy and society can continue to exist without
destroying the natural environment on which we all depend. Sustainable communities
acknowledge that there are limits to the natural, social and built systems upon which we
depend. Key questions asked in a sustainable community include: Are we using this
resource faster than it can be renewed? and Are we enhancing the social and human
capital upon which our community depends?.
Sustainability is an issue for all communities, from small rural towns that are losing the
natural environment upon which their jobs depend, to large metropolitan areas where
crime and poverty are decreasing the quality of life. Local exchange can play a central
role in developing a sustainable community:
Local exchange can act as a focus for community, building bonds between
people, facilitating friendships and encouraging self-reliance.
Local exchange can facilitate recycling of materials within the community;
clothes, containers for home produce, aluminium for fund-raising, books, sports
equipment and furniture.
Local exchange can enable people to buy locally produced food, a reminder
that supermarkets are not the only way.
Local exchange can give people access to tools and expertise to enable
goods to be repaired and reused rather than thrown away, a reminder that new
is not necessarily better.
Local exchange can make goods and services that are labour intensive rather
than resource intensive accessible to far more people. This allows work to be
carried out which would have been abandoned through lack of cash resources.
Local exchange can help the community employ artists and musicians, often
beyond the reach of ordinary people, enhancing quality of life.
Local exchange gives people an opportunity to take action locally without
feeling that they have to wait for the global economy to embrace sustainable
Local exchange can help to make local economies more self-contained. This
means that currency circulates locally, bringing benefits to local traders and
suppliers, retaining jobs and profits locally, and encouraging skills and expertise
to be retained.
Paying for
baby-sitting through my
Community Exchange
has actually helped
ease the pressure on
our relationship. We
need time on our own,
an occasional break
from the children, and
a chance to get out of
the house.
Page 24

Even taking a small percentage of trading in local currency may give a company the
breathing space it needs to survive. By encouraging local trading, and using local
resources, you are able to keep a much closer eye on the benefits and problems it
brings, and to reduce the negative impacts on other parts of the planet.
It is important to harness the potential of local exchange to work in co-operation with
other community initiatives.

Section 1: Beginnings

Across Europe local exchange could be working closely with organisations such as
Credit Unions, Food and Housing Co-ops, Community Cafes, Healthy Living Centres,
Anti-Poverty Networks, Volunteer Bureaux, Youth Networks and Community Education
Projects, some already are. The Local Agenda 21 initiatives promoted by Local
Government in pursuit of a local approach to sustainable development is a useful vehicle
for local exchange to contribute visibly to the sustainable development process.
Local exchange can provide an opportunity to share skills, equipment and expertise,
ideas and sympathetic contacts between community groups, for everyones benefit. If
other local groups are using local exchange to get the things that they need, they are
much more likely to support the development of local exchange into something that can
really make a difference locally, rather than see it as yet more competition for scarce
cash resources.

The Scottish local exchange model

Scottish Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) have evolved many common features
and ways of working. This is perhaps due to the intrinsic Scottish community spirit that
encourages the sharing of ideas in a co-operative manner. LETSlink Scotland has worked
hard at bringing different groups together to identify and share values, ideas and methods
of working. Scottish LET Systems have therefore maintained their local grass roots
connections and independence whilst at the same time, sharing many common ideals;
Scottish LET Systems are local membership clubs that are run on a not-forprofit basis.
They tend to be independent of development agencies and official community
development bodies.
The system is owned by the membership who are elected democratically.
They are socially inclusive, actively attracting members facing social
disadvantage to participate in local trading.
They loosely equate a local exchange token (LET) to a pound.
They generally produce several directories advertising goods and services
that members wish to trade, and organise a programme of trading and social
events throughout the year.
They usually operate through a local registry of offers and wants that are
published regularly.
They tend to encourage and empower their members to contact each other
directly without having to rely on a central broker or agency.
Most are members of Scotbarter, an organisation whose role is to facilitate
exchange trading across Scotland, principally between small businesses and
community organisations and charities.
It is this model which will be used to describe the means to develop a viable community
exchange system. The best features of a number of Scottish LET Systems will be used
as a template for creating the ideal local exchange economy, but in the end the people
who use the model will inevitably change it to suit their needs, such is the democratic
nature of local exchange trading.

Page 25

Section 1: Beginnings

Page 26

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Section 2:
Creating a local exchange

Page 27

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Page 28

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Creating a local exchange

First steps
You already have all of
the people, buildings,
things and skills youll
need in your own local
community. You just
havent met them all
yet! Your LETS will
provide a wonderful
forum for people from
all walks of life to come
together in mutual
support. The fun and
challenge of growing a
LETS community is in
identifying your
community needs along
the way and together,
finding someone or
something to meet
those needs. It is said
that there are just eight
people in the world who
connect you with
everyone else. The
trick is to find out who
they are! You may be
amazed at the
resourcefulness of a
small group of diverse

A number of different skills are needed to organise and run a successful system, so
dont try and do it alone! You will have friends and neighbours; perhaps some keen
people already involved in developing your local community in some capacity, who
can be called on to help. Form an informal steering group to plan the creation of your
local exchange. Invite people who you think may have skills, local knowledge and
contacts. There are more formal roles to take on once your LETS is established such
as Treasurer and Secretary so make sure you involve a few people who are willing to
do this.
The skills you are looking for in a core group and for the initial planning stage include:
Organising skills to pull everything and everyone together.
Numerical and language skills to make detailed applications and keep the
cash accounts balanced.
Publishing skills to write good copy, press releases and produce accurate
Verbal communication skills to host effective meetings.
Social skills to network across a wide variety of people.
Creative skills to produce inspiring publicity materials.
Practical skills to make notice boards, source tables, chairs and other materials.
Computer skills to create or setup software programs.
Although these various skills are necessary, none of the individual tasks are particularly
difficult. You dont need experts or professionals, just willing and able people. Many
local exchanges start up with just a few people sharing the tasks and then they expand
as the membership grows and the LETS income builds to pay for their time.
A local exchange needs to be diverse to thrive. If you just invite a bunch of your friends
with the same skills there wont be much need for trading and your group may be perceived
by others to be cliquey. In a healthy local economy everyone needs everyone else.
So your first step is to sit down with a sheet of paper and write an initial guest list of
friends, neighbours, people and groups who you know may have the time, the need
and the range of skills youll need to share. Dont worry at this stage if you cant cover all
of your people needs immediately. This is the organising group.

Page 29

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Preparing for the launch

First meeting
Introductory Leaflet and Leaflet 2, Membership Agreement,
Case study of Kincardine LETS, The Trading Game.
At the first meeting of the organising group there will be people with lots of questions
about local exchange, how it works, does it work elsewhere? It would be a good idea to
give your guests photocopied leaflets from the pack and one of the case studies in
advance, or have them on hand at the first meeting.
Remember you are not alone. LETSlink Scotland may be able to send a development
worker to speak at your first meeting and give help, advice and encouragement. You
could also invite organisers and members from a nearby system to come along and
share their experiences. Youll find other LETS groups to be friendly and co-operative
and willing to help you spread the word through your own community.
You may also want to try out the Trading Game as a means of introducing the concepts
of local exchange and to promote discussion.
During your first get together with the organising group you can brainstorm with everyone
else to identify groups and individuals that would be interested in attending the launch
party to find out more. Try and keep your list as local as possible. Experience has
shown that local exchange trading works best in high-density neighbourhood pockets
rather than spread across entire regions.

Imagine that you had to set sail to a desert island with a bunch of people and had to become selfsufficient. Who would they be and what skills would they have to offer? Firstly youd consider your
own abilities and realise that you could not survive on your own without great difficulty. Who will
hold the other end of the log when you build your fishing canoe? You would certainly want to
have onboard a wide range of ages; older and wiser people with knowledge and life experience
as well as young people with energy and enthusiasm. You would also want a healthy mix of
males and females (not just for island re-population!)

Page 30

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

You would need skilled people to build boats and shelters so invite handy
people, tradesmen, electricians, plumbers and joiners.
You would need strong physical people, willing and able to have a go.
You would need people with good communication and organising skills.
You would need food producers so invite some growers and market gardeners.
You would need creative people for inspiration and good ideas so invite crafts
people, artists and musicians.
You would certainly need health care so invite some therapists, hairdressers,
and carers.
You would need food so how about some cooks or people to make the
If you had the luxury of a computer to store your information you would need
someone to maintain it so invite aboard some PC enthusiasts.
Who would look after the children, the elderly, the animals and plants?

Next meetings
Video, Yourtown Constitution, LETS Principles Card Game. Yourtown
LETS Membership Leaflet, Application Form, Members Agreement and Rules
If people came back, thats a good sign! They will have lots of ideas and new member
suggestions and having had time to read and think about local exchange and may be
ready to discuss the principals on which the system will be based.
Use the card game to explore some the issues involved in agreeing guidelines for
trading and adopting a constitution for your local exchange.
The constitutions provided with the pack are tried and tested. Having a constitution
ensures that the system operates democratically, that people given responsibility for
organising the system can be held to account for their actions and that no single person
can force changes against the will of the majority. It also enables groups to formally
adopt the rules by which they have agreed to trade and provides a legitimate framework
for people to air grievances or be sanctioned for unacceptable behaviour. A constituted
group will also have an easier time when applying for financial support or grant funding.
Use this meeting to choose a constitution that can be presented for endorsement at the
launch of the system.

Page 31

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Useful resources
Running a Community Exchange requires very little equipment. If you dont have the
resources at hand, try and invite along people or organisations that could share theirs.
You will need:
A place to meet
Many systems start off by meeting in each others homes. However it is important to be
seen to be open and accessible to all people from your local community. You are
aiming to invite around 20-50 people for your initial start-up meeting so a room in your
local community centre or village hall may be preferable. Your meeting place needs to
be central, accessible and nonpartisan (meeting in Masonic rooms, council buildings or
church halls may put some people off).
Access to a photocopier
Youll need this to copy the start-up materials, membership packs and directories. You
may find that your local school, council or voluntary organisation can help here by providing
photocopies at low cost or in exchange for help from other LETS members. As your
system grows, this will likely be your biggest ongoing expense so its a good idea to
invite a service provider along at an early stage.
A computer or word processor
It is no coincidence that LETS have flourished, as computers have become more
affordable and accessible. They allow people to produce their own materials quickly
and at low cost. They can also help to process the accounts in an efficient way. Using
the Internet to share files can save paper and postage costs and can help to facilitate
shared working.
Having said that, many LETS get along fine using handwritten records, so dont be put
off by the absence of a computer.
Office stationery
Youll need paper, pens and a guillotine for cutting up chequebooks. You may also
need the use of a flipchart for presenting and sharing ideas.
A Noticeboard with a secure LETS Box
This needs to be sited in a place where lots of different people can see and access it at
convenient times. Community centres and local libraries are a good choice but anywhere
where lots of different people gather or pass through is good. The LETS box is where
your members will post their LETS cheques and notices for the administration to collect
and process. Any secure box that can be fastened to a wall will do. Lockable, weatherproof
postal boxes can be found in local hardware stores, or perhaps one of your members
could make one for LETS?
Use of a telephone
Youll need this to get in touch with others and allow your members to stay in touch with

Page 32

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Yourtown LETS Membership Leaflet

Decide the design and content of your exchange system membership information leaflet.
A template has been provided for you to customise it for your own needs. Page 1 could
hold system contact details and page 8 could be blank for member notes.


page 2


page 3

Decisions to be made:

Decisions to be made:

How often will the directory be


Do you wish your local currency to

be roughly equal to the pound?

How many adverts can members


You could decide to operate in units

of time with 10 units equal to one
hours work.

What is your system spendinglimit?

How often will you issue transaction

You could operate with 5 units equal

to a pound, making purchase of low
value items easier.

What are your membership fees?

How much are your LETS
administration charges and are
they charged regularly?
Do you have local information to
add to the introduction?

Page 33

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange


page 4

page 5

Leaving the system

It is important that people realize from the beginning that when they trade they have
obligations to the community. That is why it is a good idea to emphasize the need
to return positive or negative balances to zero when they leave.

Making the most of
Yourtown LETS
Members will write on
this page to help them
decide what to trade
page 6

page 7

The inspiration list helps jog peoples thoughts about how they can trade. People
living in difficult circumstances often have a low opinion of themselves and what
they can offer others. Everyone has something to offer and may need help to
realise this fact!

Page 34

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Yourtown LETS constitution

This is a sample constitution that you can tailor to suit the values and principles of your
own group.
It is important for your local exchange to adopt a constitution for a number of reasons:
It provides a democratic framework that allows the core group to operate but
be accountable to the membership.
It provides rules and guidelines for handling finances and resources.
It provides the legal structure demanded by local government and other
potential funding bodies.
Imagine youre back on your desert island with a large group of people all hoping to
work with and rely on each other to survive. Hopefully they will bring with them a sense
of what is right and wrong and will support fair play, but if youve ever watched a fly on the
wall documentary examining group dynamics, an unregulated community can quickly
become very fractious!
By presenting people with a framework by which they can regulate their relationships
you introduce an element of stability to the new community being formed. People are
reassured by the presence of rules and standards of behaviour.
The model constitution is reproduced in Appendix 1 (page 47). It is laid out overleaf with
explanatory notes. Why not work through the constitution and tailor it to suit your

Page 35

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

The name of the organisation is Yourtown Local
Exchange Trading System (referred to as Yourtown

This will be the name that you adopt at your launch

meeting and the name you will use to open a bank
account or apply for funding.


To publicise and promote Local Exchange
Trading Systems throughout the local area.
To provide LETS trading services for
members; these will include accounts,
publicizing offers and wants; and organizing
events to promote local trading.
To provide an information and training
resource base for any local group or
individual interested in joining or setting up
a Local Exchange Trading System in the
local area.

You may wish to specify the geographical area in

which the local exchange will operate.
What does your local exchange system exist to do
in your community? The objectives listed here all
relate directly to local exchange but you may have
decided to start your system with other specific ideas
in mind, such as:
To promote the recycling and reuse of
To increase the production and consumption
of locally grown food.
To increase the access of community groups
to community based assets.

Membership is open to any individual or corporate
body interested in participating in or supporting
the aims of Yourtown LETS, regardless of gender,
race, nationality, age, disability, sexuality, political
party or religious opinion.

It might seem obvious that your local exchange will

welcome everyone but it is good to see it in print and it
helps stop a misguided individual from believing they
can bar a member because of a personal prejudice
they might hold. Many public funders will insist that
you have an equal opportunities statement.


By deciding at the beginning, through planning

meetings, the launch party and subsequent
discussions, what your system is all about, you can
let members, and other organisations and funders
know that you have high ideals and intentions.

Page 36

Aims and Values

To promote the provision of high quality,
efficient and responsive services to
To promote active participation by all
To improve quality of life for members.
To promote trust within LETS and in the wider
To promote being a caring, people-centred
To promote equality of opportunity.
To promote friendship and support amongst
To encourage development of talent and
learning amongst members.
To promote ecological practices and
sustainability including recycling unwanted
To promote health and safety within Yourtown

Local exchange does play a very important role in

developing a sustainable local economy and even
in LET Systems where these aims are not spelt out
they arise spontaneously from the process of mutual
aid and inclusivity that local exchange supports. So
why not acknowledge it in advance!

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange


The LETS Core Group

The Core Group will be elected at the Annual
General Meeting to carry out the business
of Yourtown LETS. Vacancies may be filled
by co-option.
The Core Group may establish sub- groups
to carry out specific tasks of work within the
aims of Yourtown LETS.
The Core Group will consist of 3 12
The Core Group of Yourtown LETS will be
elected at the first AGM, and they will have
the power to make executive decisions
involving the administration of the LET
The Core Group must be quorate, i.e. it must
have over half of current members present.
The Core Group will meet at least six times
a year.

It is important that the people who are able to put

the time and energy into organising, promoting and
administering the local exchange are given the
authority to do so.

All monies raised by, or on behalf of
Yourtown LETS, will be applied to further the
objectives of the organisation and for no
other purpose.
The accounts will be audited at least once a
year by an auditor who will be appointed at
the Annual General Meeting.
The financial year will end on 31st March.

Mismanagement of money is a serious, but not

uncommon, feature of community organisations.
There should be a clear list of guidelines for the
collection, banking and spending of money.

General Meetings
The Annual General Meeting will take place
between the beginning of April and the end
of June. At this meeting the Core Group will
make a report of its activities, present a
statement of accounts, and then resign.
Individuals may stand for re-election.
Members will be notified of the details of
the AGM by local advertisement, not less
than 28 days before the date of the meeting.
The AGM will elect the new Core Group.
The Secretary must provide nomination
forms not less than 28 days before the
The form will require the names and signature
of the member who is prepared to stand and
the same of members who nominate and

The Annual General meeting is the window on the

Core Group. All the relevant information, good and
bad, positive and negative should be presented to
the membership ahead of the meeting.



You decide on the numbers required for your LETS.

The group need to be allowed to carry out their
various duties without the constant need for
endorsement by the entire membership but should
work as a team, agreeing administrative duties from
meeting to meeting.

Synchronising the financial year with that of other

organisations is a useful device to ensure that
competent financial statements are available to
members and potential funders.

On the basis of the report members will be able to

decide whether core group members may be reelected and gives an opportunity for people to bring
new skills and ideas.

Page 37

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Completed nomination forms must be

submitted to the Secretary no less than
fourteen days prior to the Meeting.
Elections will be undertaken if more than
twelve nominations have been submitted
Vacancies may be filled by co-option.
Meetings must be quorate, i.e. it must have
at least 10% of current members present at
the Meeting.
The Chair has a right to a casting vote when
votes for or against a resolution are equal.
Emergency or extraordinary general
meetings may be called by the executive
or at the request of five per cent of the
membership. The request must provide a
written reason for the meeting.

Changes to the Constitution

The constitution may only be altered at an
Annual General or Extraordinary General
meeting called for that purpose.

You may decide that an election should be held even

if nominations fall short. You may wish to reduce
the number in the core group until your system has
You may wish to change the number required for
meetings to be declared quorate in line with the size
of your membership, or adopt a more flexible
percentage system e.g. 10% attendance.
Co-option allows the core group to bring on board
people with particular skills such as bookkeeping,
web design or funding knowledge. Some people are
just too shy to put themselves forward for election.
Changes to the constitution may include the size of
the core group, objectives of the organisation, clearer
guidance on financial matters, but the main point is
that changes must be agreed by the membership.

Any changes to the constitution must be

agreed by half of the members present.

Yourtown LETS may only be dissolved by
a General Meeting called for that purpose.
Members will be notified of the details not
less than fourteen days before the date of
the Meeting.
A proposal to dissolve Yourtown LETS must
be agreed by at least two thirds of members
at the General Meeting.
Any assets remaining after the satisfaction
of any proper debts and liabilities will be
given to a group (or groups) chosen at the
discretion of Yourtown LETS Core Group,
to be applied towards purposes which are
in keeping with the aims of Yourtown LETS

Page 38

Of course you hope that dissolution will never

happen, but if it does and the system has assets
such as money, equipment or other assets there
should be an agreed mechanism to ensure that it
goes to a good cause.

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Yourtown LETS members agreement & rules of LETS

Why so many rules, regulations and boring bits, you may ask! Well, its good to set out
the framework in which local exchange will operate right at the start for a number
of reasons:
Providing something to which people must give their approval ensures that
they will give a little time to reading and understanding what is involved in local
People see that trading must be an established process, as a result of which
rules have been developed to help the system run smoothly.
By providing clear guidelines people are able to be more confident about
experimenting with something new and a bit radical.
Guidelines emphasise to people that they have both rights, and responsibilities
towards others on the system and they help to develop trust.
The membership agreement is in the Appendix but is reproduced below with
some guidance notes to help you tailor it to your local exchange.
The Yourtown Local Exchange Trading System LET
System is a non-profit membership society whose
rights and authority are vested in the members who
delegate that authority to the Core Group to act on
their behalf.

The first four guidelines describe in simple terms

how the local exchange operates.

The LET System produces a regular Directory &

Newsletter though which members can exchange
goods and services, and maintains a central
account of those exchanges for the benefit of the
Members agree to the LET System holding their
details on computer and distributing to other
members those details relevant to the purpose of

The data protection act requires that you gain

consent to hold personal details on computer. (See
page 165)

Members may give or receive from each other

credit in the accepted LETS unit of each account
called a LET (Local Exchange Token). These units
are considered to loosely represent the value of
1 Sterling and are recorded centrally. Only the
account holder can authorise the transfer of LETS
from their account to another.

The name of your local exchange currency can be

decided democratically at the launch party. Giving
a currency a name such as Kelvins or Groats or
Shales helps to give the system its local identity.

No money is deposited or issued. Members may

exchange any transaction entirely in LETS or on a
part cash basis, but only LETS are recorded on
the LETS System. All accounts start at zero.
Members are not obliged to be in receipt of any
credit before issuing another member with credit
from their account, subject to an elastic exchange
limit (200L or 10% of turnover). Members can initially

For the system to work effectively you want to

encourage people not to either accumulate an
excessive credit or commitment, but to trade. Setting
a limit reminds people of their obligations to others
in the system.

Page 39

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

accumulate up to 200L or receive credit up to 200L

interest free. If this limit is exceeded, members may
be required to return their account to zero.
Members are required to return their account to
zero if they wish to cease trading or leave the
If you are in debit, you are obliged to do what you
can to help others when asked. If you are in credit,
you are obliged to exchange your LETS for goods
and services offered by other members.
Any member is entitled to know the balance and
turnover of another members account.

A requirement to return a balance to zero before

you leave the system essentially tells people that
your currency has value and that it should not be
treated like monopoly money! You are obliged to
trade with people, but that doesnt mean you must.
The usual rules of trust and personal freedom apply
to trading transactions. Those who trade disreputably
will find themselves with few trading partners.

No interest is charged or paid on balances. The

Core Group is authorised to charge joining or
renewal fees in LETS and/or pounds sterling on a
cost-of-service basis as the situation requires, and
to levy service charges on members accounts at
rates assessed in consultation with the members at
each years Annual General Meeting.

A lot of work goes into administering a local exchange

and experience has shown that providing a small
reward for helping the system not only provides for
continuity of service (because people see their work
valued) but that the service charges help to generate
trading across the system.

No warranty or undertaking as to the value,

condition or quality of services or items exchanged
is expressed or implied by virtue of the introduction
of members to each other.

Traders should remember that the system is there

only to assist barter and cannot be held responsible
for the quality of service or value of goods. It can
however provide guidance to people about how to
negotiate a trade and ensure agreement on quality
and value.

The LET System publishes a list of the resources

and services made available by members but cannot
be held responsible for the actual goods and services
on offer.
Members are individually responsible for their own
personal tax liabilities and returns. Yourtown LETS
has no obligation or liability to report to the tax
authorities or to collect taxes on their behalf. (But
you can be required by the Inland Revenue to
make statements available do we need to say
this?) Same applies to VAT do you need to refer
to this as well?

Statements involving the word tax are always apt to

cause some alarm, but it is better to be open about
the issue. Local government officers reading your
guidance literature will be more sympathetic to the
system if the system is seen to be clear about
possible tax implications for members.

Members have the right, and are encouraged, to

attend any meeting of the Core Group and to
participate in decision making.

Membership rights of participation are important to

ensure that the Core Group is operating in a manner
acceptable to the membership.

The Core Group may act on behalf of members in

seeking explanation or satisfaction from a person
whose activities are considered to be contrary to
the interests of the membership.
The Core Group may suspend membership in the
case of delinquent accounts and in the last resort
may ask members to leave the system.
Page 40

In any community there can be people who abuse

the system or use it disreputably. The Core Group
may need to act to protect vulnerable groups such
as children against such abuse, or, intervene when
a trading dispute cannot be resolved amicably or
threatens the reputation of the system as a whole.

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

The Core Group may decline to record an account

or directory entry considered inappropriate.
Membership of Yourtown LETS System implies
acceptance of the conditions of this agreement.
Your proposed Yourtown LETS Core Group (to
be ratified at the Launch party);
Co-ordinator & Directory Publisher
LETS Administrator
Events Organiser
Fund Raiser

You may wish to take a stand against pornography

or other entries that cause embarrassment or
offence to different sections of the community.
It is a lot for people to take in and accept all in one
go, but in order to get your system up and running
quickly before interest wanes, it is very important
that people endorse the key elements of the trading

Summary of first steps

You have gathered together a steering group of people keen to start a local exchange,
listed possible additional members, assigned core group roles to members of the
steering group, discussed and debated the philosophy behind your new system, written
the first drafts of your

Membership leaflet
Application form
Membership agreement.

Now its time to prepare for the launch of your local exchange trading system!

Page 41

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Planning your Launch Party

Once you have had several planning meetings and achieved the commitment and support
of your steering group, its time to plan your launch party. Ideally you will now have
adopted roles as Co-ordinator & Directory Publisher, LETS Administrator, Events
Organiser, Treasurer and Fund Raiser. Aim at inviting between 20 50 people to your
launch event. Everyone will have suggestions and can bring along their friends and
family. A well-organised public launch will inspire those attending and create confidence
in the group. It will also get your membership off to a flying start, providing members with
instant opportunities to start trading with each other.
Divide up the responsibilities for organising the event:

Book a venue:
Tables, chairs and

Finalise your
invitation list
ensuring you have
invited a wide
diversity of people,
businesses and

Assemble your
(customise the
constitution and
membership pack to
suit your needs).

Plan your timetable

and share the tasks.

Cost your launch

plans and look for
ways of obtaining
initial financial

Organise a small
buffet and
refreshments or you
could ask people to
bring and share.

Invite a guest
speaker (from
LETSlink or from a
neighbouring LET

Page 42

Consider providing a
creche facility in an
adjoining room so
that parents can be
at the meeting
without distractions.

Prepare a press
release for the
local media and
distribute posters
around town.

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

In time, your system needs to aim at becoming sustainable in local currency. The wonderful
thing about LETS is that you will actually create a source of interest free credit within your
own group. For example, you could create an account for your Administration and another
for Events. People can be paid in local currency from these accounts straightaway.
Once your system grows you will earn back these credits from member donations,
service charges or admission to events.
Think positive! You are starting a local exchange and the core group and administration
will become a powerhouse for generating trade. This means that you can use local
currency in support of start-up activity.

Start-up Funding
Unfortunately it is difficult to avoid using old-fashioned money. There will be a need for
some cash. There are quite a lot of ways to raise the initial cash needed for photocopying,
post and telephone charges. Make sure you have a realistic forecast of initial spending
on the launch and the publishing and postage of your first directory before applying for
funding. Here are some ideas for covering the initial start-up costs.

The steering group donate 5 each in lieu of future

membership payments.

Always popular!

Organise a social event such as a barbecue and

invite the street at 3 per head.

Not everyone is a socialite!

Arrange funding in kind (or for LETS when the

system gets going.)

Printing through the community centre, local

business or Local Council

The Community or Parish Council

These bodies usually have small amounts of money

to allocate to good causes or community
development activities and you have a good cause!

Local Government

Most Councils operate a community chest or small

grants fund for just these types of idea. Awards are
usually made within a few weeks of an application.

Organisations concerned with community and

sustainable development.

More on these in the section on funding.

Page 43

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

The difficulty you may have before start-up will be your lack of legitimacy. Although you
have a draft constitution, because it has not been ratified by the membership, you are
still a group of individuals. Local community bodies and Councils may be able to act
with discretion when they allocate small sums of money for start-ups but charities and
national organisations will not.
One way around this problem is to recruit members of a group who support your idea,
are willing to share resources and can apply for funding on your behalf, for example:
A local Friends of the Earth group, the local allotment society, the local church, mosque
or temple, rotary club, a social club or miners welfare organisation.

Launch Party Programme

The success of your first LETS meeting and social event will involve;
providing information and answering questions about LETS
encouraging as many new members as possible
electing the first LETS Core Group (proposed and seconded by the people
making any decisions relevant to the system e.g. name of currency, trading
limits, frequency of events, membership charges in cash and LETS.
identifying new people willing to help with the running and support of the system.
ensuring people feel they have had a fun and interesting meeting.

Tips for success

Ensure a good turnout through prior publicity and by asking people to bring
their friends and neighbours.
Organise a few people to run a creche in an adjoining room.
Choose a central venue at a time to suit most people.
If the meeting is to be held in a large building, ensure there are pre-prepared
signs directing people to the meeting room.
Setup some chairs in a circle, adding new ones as people arrive. (This is
better than having empty chairs and it gives people a chance to help each
other). If you run out of chairs, suggest the fitter people sit on the floor in an
inner circle).
Get someone to record the meeting (in the form of minutes).
Arrange a bring & share buffet for after the meeting to encourage people to
mix and chat.
Have tea and coffee available on a help yourself anytime basis.
Meet up as a steering group half an hour before most people arrive. Run
through the preparations so that everyone knows what is going to happen.
Check TV and videos are tuned in and ready to work.
Hand out printed materials after the meeting so that people can concentrate on
what is being said.
Alter the time each activity takes to suit the number of people attending.
Play inspiring and uplifting background music during the buffet.
Page 44

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Suggested Programme

1.30 pm

Steering group and helpers arrive to setup.

2.00 pm

Meet and greet (go around the circle asking people to say who they are
and what they hope to get from the meeting).

2.10 pm

Outline the programme.

2.15 pm

Introduce the guest speaker and/or show the LETS Video. (If you are
confident you could use the basic seminar to get across the main points
about LETS.)

2.35 pm

Introduce the LETS Trading Game. (Available on the CD Rom)

2.45 pm

Play the LETS Trading Game.

3.15 pm

Invite questions and answers.

3.30 pm

Distribute sample directories, membership leaflets and application forms

and help people to complete their application forms. For a large group
ask them to break up into smaller units, each led by a member of the
steering group. Invite people to help each other complete their
application forms and identify their offers and wants.

4.00 pm

Elect Core Group members and invite applause for them. Make those
system related decisions.

4.15 pm

Announce intended date of first members directory. Thanks to everyone.

4.30 pm

Buffet and socialise.

5.00 pm

End and clear up.

Agree date and venue of your first official Core Group meeting.

Page 45

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Page 46

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Appendix 1
Sample Local Exchange Trading System Constitution
1. Name
The name of the organisation is Yourtown Local Exchange Trading System (referred to
as Yourtown LETS).

2. Objectives
To publicise and promote Local Exchange Trading Systems throughout the
local area.
To provide LETS trading services for members; these will include accounts,
publicising offers and wants; and organising events to promote local trading.
To provide an information and training resource base for any local group or
individual interested in joining or setting up a Local Exchange Trading System
in the local area.

3. Membership
Membership is open to any individual or corporate body interested in participating in or
supporting the aims of Yourtown LETS, regardless of gender, race, nationality, age,
disability, sexuality, political party or religious opinion.

4. Aims and Values

To promote the provision of high quality, efficient and responsive services to
To promote active participation by all members.
To improve quality of life for members.
To promote trust within LETS and in the wider community.
To promote being a caring, people-centred organisation.
To promote equality of opportunity to take part in Yourtown LETS.
To promote friendship and support amongst members.
To encourage development of talent and learning amongst members.
To promote ecological practices and sustainability.
To promote health and safety within Yourtown LETS.

5. The LETS Core Group

The Core Group will be elected at the Annual General Meeting to carry out the
business of Yourtown LETS. Vacancies may be filled by co-option.
The Core Group may establish sub- groups to carry out specific tasks of work
within the aims of Yourtown LETS.
The Core Group will consist of 3 - 12 members.
The Core Group of Yourtown LETS will be elected at the first AGM, and they
will have the power to make executive decisions involving the administration
of the LETSystem.
Page 47

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

The Core Group must be quorate, i.e. it must have over half of current members
The Core Group will meet at least six times a year.

6. Finances
All monies raised by, or on behalf of Yourtown LETS, will be applied to further
the objectives of the organisation and for no other purpose.
The accounts will be audited at least once a year by an auditor who will be
appointed at the Annual General Meeting.
The financial year will end on 31st March.

7. General Meetings
The Annual General Meeting will take place between the beginning of April
and the end of June. At this meeting the Core Group will make a report of its
activities, present a statement of accounts, and then resign. Individuals may
stand for re-election.
Members will be notified of the details of the AGM by local advertisement, not
less than 28 days before the date of the meeting.
The AGM will elect the new Core Group.
The Secretary must provide nomination forms not less than 28 days before the
The form will require the names and signature of the member who is prepared
to stand and the same of members who nominate and second.
Completed nomination forms must be submitted to the Secretary no less than
fourteen days prior to the Meeting.
Elections will be undertaken if more than twelve nominations have been
submitted properly.
Vacancies may be filled by co-option.
Meetings must be quorate, i.e. there must be at least 30 current members
present at a Meeting.
The Chair has a right to a casting vote when votes for or against a resolution
are equal.
Emergency or extraordinary general meetings may be called by the executive
or at the request of five per cent of the membership. The request must provide
a written reason for the meeting.

8. Changes to the Constitution

The constitution may only be altered at an Annual General or Extraordinary
General meeting called for that purpose.
Any changes to the constitution must be agreed by half of the members present.

9. Dissolution
Yourtown LETS may only be dissolved by a General Meeting called for that
Members will be notified of the details not less than fourteen days before the
date of the Meeting.

Page 48

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

A proposal to dissolve Yourtown LETS must be agreed by at least two thirds

of members at the General Meeting.
Any assets remaining after the satisfaction of any proper debts and liabilities
will be given to a group (or groups) chosen at the discretion of Yourtown
LETS Core Group, to be applied towards purposes which are in keeping with
the aims of Yourtown LETS objectives

Page 49

Section 2: Creating a Local Exchange

Page 50

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Section 3:
Spreading the Word

Page 51

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Page 52

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Spreading the Word

Use the Directory
Once you have launched your system you should now have somewhere between 12 and
30 members to get your local exchange moving. If everyone involved submitted 6 ads you
would have between 70 and 180 local Offers & Wants to publish. Both are important.
Wanted ads alert the Core Group and membership on possible traders who need to be
approached. For example if members need a car mechanic, this can focus energy on
canvassing the traders you need for your system to grow and to flourish. It also provides
information on the people you need to get aboard to achieve the social diversity that is so
important to a whole and healthy community. Experience has shown that a LET System
starts to take off when membership rises to around 100 members living in close proximity
to each other. Your first goal therefore is to achieve this number as quickly as possible.
Offers give people the chance to spend LETS straight away. Remember, unlike conventional
money, you dont need to earn LETS before you spend them. Core Group members can
kick start trading by intentionally spending into commitment (debit) in the knowledge that
they will earn back the credits by working on the management of the system. Your system
accounts (LETS Admin. and LETS Events) can also spend into commitment to invest in
attracting new members and therefore increasing LETS income through future service
charges. Try and get new members to trade as quickly as possible to avoid them feeling
discouraged. Once they have written a few LETS cheques they will soon find that it is easy
and can become habit forming. Trading itself spreads the word!

Word of Mouth
Your existing membership is your best resource in attracting new members. At every
meeting and social event it is worth encouraging the existing members to think of new
people (friends and neighbours) who may be interested. The members themselves are
likely to be the most effective at persuading their own friends. Give each existing member
a few application packs to pass on to others or brainstorm new members at every
opportunity. Remember that if your system works well for your members, they will spread
the word at no cost to the system. This has the added advantage that everyone is perceived
to be a friend of a friend, which ensures the trust and goodwill necessary for local exchange
to flourish. It also helps to focus membership around local neighbourhoods where it will
be most effective.
One successful and tested idea is to reward members with a new member bonus of 5
LETS when they buddy-in a friend. In return they were expected to explain the system
and help the new member identify their skills and complete their application form. (Most
people imagine that they have nothing to offer and it often takes a close friend to help
identify their skills and strengths.) This also shares the workload around the membership
and provides the Core Group with a useful contact if ever a trader vanishes or gets into

Page 53

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Community Notice Boards

If you have a handy person in your group you could ask them to make your system a
notice board. Lockable metal post boxes can be made available for people to post their
LETS cheques, membership forms and notices to the system administration.
Make sure that your smaller members and those in wheelchairs can read the notice board.
Ensure that your LETS boxes are accessible but safe and secure.

Your members can use the notice boards to share their offers & wants rather than wait
until the next issue of the directory. Site your notice boards in central publicly accessible
places such as community centres, village halls, petrol stations libraries or supermarkets.
Small shops may be interested in the extra customers it may attract. Keep your notice
board tidy and up to date, remove old notices regularly and include contact information for
new members.

Telephone Trees
One easy way to keep in touch with each other at low cost is to create a telephone tree or
chain. Simply sort your members telephone numbers into numerical order and ask each
member to pass on messages received to the next name or names on the list. This is a
good way to remind members of forthcoming events. The telephone tree is especially
useful in rural areas or in systems that are more widely dispersed, without common visiting
A similar chain technique can be used to distribute newsletters and directories although
organising local distributors for neighbourhood areas may prove more efficient and effective.

The Internet
It is no coincidence that LETS systems have flourished since the Internet has become
more accessible and affordable. It is estimated that 1 in 6 families in the UK are now
connected on-line. Learn how to make a group folder for your members email addresses
and you can contact many of your members at virtually no expense with one simple

Page 54

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Members with e-mail addresses may be encouraged to contact their neighbours who
have no Internet access. In doing so they will be providing a valuable local service to
others who may be happy to pay a LET or two to share access and e-mails.
If you intend to use the Internet a lot, make sure that you download proprietary virus
protection software to protect you and your members from the thousands of damaging
viruses presently circulating.
Chat rooms and bulletin boards also provide the opportunity to connect and to share
information. Many systems have developed excellent web sites (see links from the LETSlink
Scotland site). Commercial sites such as Lycos, Excite and Yahoo provide inexpensive
hosting facilities for web sites and also offer simple site construction tools to allow you to
build a simple site displaying contact details and an event diary.
Be sure to ask LETSlink Scotland to display a link to your site. A surprising number of
people now carry out a web search for information before picking up the phone.

Directories & Newsletters

Despite pending technological breakthroughs, your local directories and newsletters are
likely to be your most effective means of networking the membership. Photocopying and
postage costs will be one of your biggest cash costs. As your membership grows your
publication costs will also rise. It is therefore important that you make your directories
work hard. As well as helping your members to keep in touch with each other your
directories will also be your best advertisement for the system. Many systems publish
separate newsletters, briefing guides and directory listings (offers & wants). It is less costly
however, if you can organise to combine these documents to save on postage costs.
Encourage your members to change their offers and wants regularly and to
keep their contact information up to date at all times. Nothing discourages trading
more than inaccurate or out of date information.
Encourage your members to contribute articles in their own words to maximise
the appeal of each issue.
Choose an affordable format that reflects the values of your system and stick to
it. A4 folded to a handy A5 booklet should suffice when you have a few members
but consider A3 folded when the membership grows. Use recycled paper if you
are able to. Black type on a plain coloured paper can be just as effective as full
colour on white. Use a generic typeface that can be easily read by everyone.
Develop a style and be consistent. Classify your offers and wants in a simple
but effective way to make finding an appropriate service as quick and simple as
Be reliable and publish your directories when you say you will. Try and reduce
your copy deadline to the shortest time so that the information it contains is as
up to date as possible.
A well-designed Directory will promote trading and, as your system grows it could
become an attractive medium for local advertisers, encouraging further participation.
It will also become your showcase for potential funders.

Page 55

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Designing your directory and newsletter

Your directory and newsletter is your systems best advertisement. It will not only inspire
and inform your members to trade but also attract new members. Use this simple checklist
to help design or evaluate your own publications to identify ways in which you can make
it really effective.

Design with definite goals in mind:

Choose the format and layout that makes the best use of paper and print.
Design the publication to fit the systems budget.
Make the publication useful by including useful reference information such as
dates and contact details.
Create an interesting cover to entice the reader to explore the contents.
Look at the newsletter from the perspective of the new reader; someone seeing this
newsletter for the first time:
What is the purpose of the newsletter and who is the intended audience?
The purpose and audience should be readily discernable simply by looking at the masthead
and perhaps the table of contents. Does the name of the newsletter or a subtitle tell the
first time reader what to expect? Is the front-page layout and article likely to interest them?
Is the copy written in a style and language that they can relate to? Is this a newsletter
meant for consumers, scholars, professionals, kids? Is the primary purpose to inform,
entertain, generate trade, or promote a cause?
Who is sending this newsletter?
Disclosure can lead to trust. Is there a masthead listing the staff, company, or organisation,
contact information? People like to know where their information is coming from.
What type of image does the newsletter reflect?
Does the newsletter have a formal or friendly look? Does it appear to be carefully put
together with a logical order and consistent format or contain lots of different styles of
writing, typeface and graphics, suggesting a lack of care? The quality of the paper and the
quality of printing also play a part in the publications image but clear and consistent
presentation is more important when people know you are working to a budget.
At first glance will your intended readership recognise your publication as something for
them, written by people like them with useful information and ideas inside? You wont
know, youre too close to the work. Try it out on several people who will give you an
honest answer! Dont be shy about asking for advice.

Design check list:

Is there consistent use of margins, columns, page numbers, rules, headers and footers,
type style and graphics?
Is your Newsletter physically easy to read? Is the typeface of consistent size? 12 point
and 14 point is recommended to accommodate the needs of eyesight-impaired readers
or simply those of us with strong prescription lenses.

Page 56

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Are your paragraphs in manageable blocks or is it one big slab of text? Paragraphs help
set a rhythm for the reader as well as making it easier to start and stop or skim for that
important fact.
Does your Newsletter contain the following regular items:

Masthead & logo

Issue & date
Deadline for next issue
Team contacts guide (Core Group names, phone, e-mail)
Index (contents guide)
Members contacts & trading reports (balance & turnover)
Offers & wants Is the classification structure easy to use?
Events diary
Overall trading report
Treasurers report
Inter-trading report
Advice on how to trade
Information on how to join
Interesting and inspiring stories

Can you say yes to the following?

The articles are varied and from a number of different contributors.
The articles are concise and supported by a photo or graphic.
The news is as up to date as possible.
Headlines and subheadings are eye catching and will interest your target
Youre proud of your creation.

Applying these simple tips and techniques will improve the effectiveness of your newsletter
and stimulate trading between your members. It may also open the door for you to develop
an essential community skill. Apply your own style and ideas, be creative and have fun
doing it. It will be appreciated by many and contribute a lot to your members trading.
Once your system grows your newsletter could become a cost effective local advertising
media attracting local businesses and organisations that need to reach local people. New
Moray LETS prices an A4 advertisement at 1 or 1L per member per four full pages per
year. With 400 members that yields 100 or 100L per full page per issue - enough to meet
1/3 of the photocopying costs. You could scale these prices proportionally to the size of
your own membership. A well-designed directory will be used many times by different
members of a household providing better value to advertisers than a one-off daily
You will find examples of LET System directories and newsletters in Appendix 4
(page 65) and on the CD Rom.

Page 57

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Publicity & the media

Local exchange publicity
In local exchanges the co-ordinator or directory publisher is often responsible for publicity.
Even very small LETS should consider making sure there is someone who takes the lead
on generating publicity. Ideally, this person should be well informed about the groups
work and have access to a phone and perhaps a computer.
It is important that one person has responsibility otherwise you could find that two
representations have been made to your local paper about an upcoming event, both slightly
different and giving the impression that you arent well organised!

Agree a plan or strategy for the system

This shouldnt be terribly complicated or long winded, but it is well worth half an hour to sit
down and discuss what you are trying to achieve with your publicity and how you will go
about it. Have a brainstorming session on all the different ways you could:

Recruit new members.

Target particular groups of people.
Get the system known and talked about.
Advertise trade fairs and social events.

Getting the message out

Let your imagination run riot. The most effective publicity campaigns are the ones that
stand out from the crowd. First decide on your audience. If you want to increase your
membership in a local area - say a village or estate - then perhaps posters and leaflets
might be effective. If you want to increase your membership across a county then perhaps
getting articles in newspapers or magazines would be a better idea. If you are trying to attract
the attention of a specific group such as farmers, the local branch of the National Farmers
Union might run an article in its newsletter.
Think about the resources you have available. You need friends and allies who may join
the system, or, be happy to distribute news and information about LETS:

The Local Volunteer Development Service

Church congregations
Youth organisations
Community Councils
Council forums and community related Council departments
Social Inclusion Partnerships
Miners Welfare
Local Agenda 21 officer
British Legion
Local charities and charity shops
Post Offices and supermarkets/village shops
Local newspapers and free sheets
Local radio

Your Core Group will come up with others specific to your area.
Page 58

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Make sure you have enough; they are the appropriate size and they stand out. Most
people dont stop to read posters; they expect to see instantly what they are about. Make
them short and snappy, with eye-catching artwork and give a telephone number for more
information. Colour posters are very noticeable but they are expensive to copy. By using
clever design and coloured paper, single-colour posters can be just as eye-catching.
Computers can produce very high quality posters but so can artistic human beings. Colour
posters are available from LETSlink Scotland onto which your own contact labels can
be stuck.

Page 59

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Leaflets should give more information than posters and if they are left in places like libraries
and community centres then people will pick them up if they are interested. The cover of
a leaflet needs to be eye-catching and attractive and the text inside needs to be crisp and
to the point. Bear in mind that the question anyone reading your leaflet will be asking
themselves is Whats in it for me? If you are looking for new members for example then
the first paragraph might read:
Anytown LETS gives you the opportunity to boost your earning power and make
new friends in the local community. Your Local Exchange Trading System lets you
do things you like doing or sell things you dont need in exchange for help with the
things you hate doing and access to things you do need. Heres how it works.
These days, most people will expect leaflets to be produced on a computer but thats not
to say that a talented member couldnt do a really artistic job through calligraphy. Leaflets
should always give the name and contact details of the person responsible for them.
See Appendix 13

Local Media
People are often suspicious of journalists but in general, journalists on local papers and
radio stations are interested in good news stories about successes in their local area.
These days, journalists tend to be very busy and often never leave the office, contacting
everybody via phone. They will get a great number of their stories from news releases
issued by local authorities, hospitals and switched-on voluntary groups.
On the other hand, some journalists find that they are swamped with badly targeted and
uninteresting stories from organisations large and small. A few quick checks should help
to ensure good relations with your local media and good coverage for your group.
Is the story you have appropriate for that publication? A regional daily paper will
concern itself with crime, politics and scandal; it wont be interested in a trade
fair at your local school. The local weekly paper might well be really interested.
Are there any good pictures? It is pictures that sell newspapers. Has the systems
hit squad transformed an old ladys garden? Will there be lots of people there?
Will the newspaper be able to photograph something unusual or interesting?
Even if the newspaper doesnt send a photographer, they might be happy to
print photographs that you have taken.
Have you written a good news release? A news release need not be long, in
fact the shorter the better but it should answer the journalists key questions:
Who? What? When? Where? And Why?

Page 60

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Press release
Yourtown villagers, will be hosting Forres Community Exchange Traders, this
weekend at Scots Community Hall, Yourtown. The Forres people will be bringing
home-made soap and handcrafts to sell at the monthly trade fair. This is part of
a reciprocal exchange to learn about each others LETS system. Community
exchange traders across Scotland are experimenting with a new currency the Scotia.
In this first paragraph, the journalist has everything they need to know. If you give a little
bit of background to the event, that will help them write the story. You must include contact
details for your group on the news release, preferably with the telephone number of
someone who can be contacted, by phone, during the day.
With a little effort and thought, you could find news articles concerning your group could
become a regular feature of local media coverage. If at the same time, you distribute
leaflets and posters widely, you could increase your membership and your standing in the
local area very easily.
See Appendix 2 at the end of this section for a more detailed press release example.

How to make the news

Just about anything can be turned into news with the right angle or hook to hang it on.
Make it seem fresh, new, topical and important. Even a cheque hand-over innovatively
done can be news. Routine events and planned activities can be useful for the media.
Give your diary of events to a newsroom (local radio station or newspaper) for their diary.
If they have a slow news day, or something else that ties in with what you are doing, they
may just send someone along to cover your event.
Local newspapers and radio usually have a slot for advertising events free.
Make use of it. There may also be an opportunity to report the results of meetings
and consultation events for members. Prepare a short report. Get local readers
and listeners used to hearing about what LETS is up to, and then it wont seem
so foreign to them.
Writing letters to newspapers or using phone-ins on radio can also offer you
opportunities that neither you, not the reporter, had thought of.
Photographs can also be used to create news on their own, if you have a
particularly good photo, send it off with a caption.
If something amusing, moving or unusual happens, let your local media contacts
know, these are often where the human interest angles that reporters love so
much are found.
A feature writer could be approached with a ready-made package or outline
sketch for an article. For example a story about how a disabled person has
found a new lease of life by participating in the local LET System (obviously do
this with their co-operation!) Provide quotes and photo opportunities illustrating
the person in LETS action.
You might consider linking up with other groups in the area, for example a feature
on disabled people contributing to the community, other initiatives helping to
develop the local economy.

Page 61

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Page 62

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Appendix 2
Sample Press Release

Press Release

1. Make it
obvious that it
is a press

Embargo until May 19th

Irish visitors for Top of the Town

June the 2nd will see the biggest trade fair yet for Stirling and Alloa LETS, Stirlings
Local Exchange System.
Traders from Omagh and Colraine in Northern Ireland are coming to Stirling to gain
experience of hosting a large trading event and there will be stallholders from other
LETS across Scotland including Forres, Bathgate, Haddington and Cupar.
Local exchange involves buying and selling goods and services using a local currency
instead of pounds. The Irish LETS are at an early stage and are looking to Stirling for
ideas and inspiration
Stirling people trade with each other by writing cheques in Groats; other towns use
their own currency but now through an organisation called Scotbarter LETS can
trade with each other using a national currency the Scotia.
The trade fair will offer everything from painted glass and natural soap to hand-made
craftwork and gingerbread houses! There is even a LETS caf and barbecue.
Chrissie Woods the Stirling and Alloa LETS co-ordinator said It sounds ever so
complicated, but its really easy to get used to Members see something they like,
agree a price and write a LETS cheque from their account to the seller. If the traders
come from different systems we sort out the currency exchange behind the scenes.
Its like the United Nations!
The reason the event will be so much bigger than usual is that LETSlink Scotland,
the training organisation based in Stirling, is hosting a training event for Scottish
LETSlink Trainer, Lesley Rowan said We couldnt pass up the opportunity of putting
on a bumper trade fair followed by an evening of song and dance for visitors and
LETS members.
The Stirling and Alloa LETS trade fair starts at 12 noon on Saturday 2nd June. You
dont need to be a LETS member to take part, just use old money!
Membership information from Chrissie Woods 01786 475459

ENDS 319 words

2. If you are
sending it out
in advance of
a photo call or
other event,
embargoing it
tells the
when they can
use it.
3. Tell the whole
story in your
first few lines,
then go on to
expand on it in
order of
4. Use a quote to
liven up the
means that this
is the end of
the press
6. The word
count lets the
editors know
how much
room the story
will take up on
a page.
7. Tell them who
sent it and
where they
can get further

This and further information from

Eric Smith at SAL : 0456 322412
Page 63

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Appendix 3
Publicity Example
Getting a plug in the paper!
Getting publicity for a local LETSystem can be
very difficult. Once you have been in the local
paper a couple of times, you are old news and
no longer an interesting feature. So, youve got
to be able to find a new angle in order to get
fresh newspaper coverage. Falkirk LETS
certainly did that when they made the front
page of the Falkirk Herald by offering a loan of
5 million LETS to the builders of Falkirk Football
Stadium. The article went like this:
Courtesy of Falkirk Herald

Five million Carrons have been offered as an interest free loan to Stadium City,
the developers of the new Falkirk FC football stadium, to employ locals on the
construction of the new stadium complex. The loan comes with the condition
that the builders offer rental of the new site to Falkirk Football Club to be partly
paid in Carrons.
Falkirk FC could earn the Carrons to pay the rent by offering local people the
chance to partly pay for season tickets using Carrons. Locals would then be
paid in Carrons for providing services at the Stadium site.
Freda Brodie, secretary of Falkirk LETS, said: It would be a great opportunity
for local supporters to help build the stadium and use their earnings to partly
pay for football season tickets or anything else that is available on the
Unlike pounds sterling, Falkirk Carrons stay in the local community and give
local people the chance to use their skills.
She said the scheme had mini-excavators and building equipment at its
disposal. There are also gardeners, decorators, plumbers and other skilled
workers involved. If Falkirk wants a community football club, we have a group
within the community who are offering the support.
OK, its a little bit off the wall, but it got publicity two days before the LETS Trading Week
event and a stall at the local Gala Day. Well-done Falkirk!

Page 64

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Appendix 4
Newsletter Example

Page 65

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Page 66

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Page 67

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Page 68

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Page 69

Section 3: Spreading the Word

Page 70

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Section 4:
LETS Accounting

Page 71

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Page 72

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

LETS Accounting
There are no fixed rules about how many people it takes to run a local exchange; it
could be a single (very dedicated!) individual, or, for a large local exchange, a team
of a dozen or more people. In practice a team of four or five works well in the initial
stages. The different tasks of Co-ordinator, Publisher, Treasurer and Events Organiser
could be tackled by an individual or allocated according to the skills of the people
in the core group.
Keep the big idea about local exchange at the front of your mind at all times. Its all
about getting people to exchange goods and services by issuing an IOU in local
currency to the value of the goods and services purchased. When you go into
commitment by taking something from someone else you are saying to everyone
Im ready to do something for you, please let me help.
The more work or goods created in the system the more local currency units will circulate.
Those units do not leave and are not used up; they continue to pop in and out of
peoples accounts as local exchanges occur.

Mhairi moved into her Council flat in the spring. The garden was a complete
mess and actually posed a danger to her little boy. She used her LETS Directory
and got advice from Gordon who drew up a plan for a drying area, a flower
bed, vegetable plot and a play area. Joyce sold Mhairi broken slabs for crazy
paving, Ashley laid them and made a sand pit, Raj planted a lawn and got her
flower and vegetable plot started. The project cost her 200L (and 15 materials).
She now has to help others by earning 200L, but she created 400L of action in
the community because the people who helped her can use their LETS to do
things for themselves. I believe Mhairi has been selling salad crops to her
The information flow required to run your local exchange starts as a trickle but will soon
become a healthy flow. You need to be able to keep track of who has traded with whom
and keep accurate records in order to publish the trading balances for the whole system.
When twenty people are involved its easy. Fifty people actively trading and it starts to
get exciting! You want people to have confidence that when they sell a bicycle or help
someone move house their local currency will flow into their account in good time.

Every aspect of local exchange organisation will ultimately make a

contribution to improving the effectiveness of trading:
Providing regular trading records increases confidence that the system is
Publishing trading stories, offers and wants stimulates trading.
Organising social events helps traders to meet, build networks and requires
local currency to be spent.
Funds raised from events and grants will help to support publicity materials
and activities aimed at generating new membership or stimulating trade.

Page 73

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

The Transaction Cycle

In order to keep the LETS accounts live and up to date it is important to:
Keep the transaction cycle as simple as possible to avoid lost or missing
Encourage members to post their cheques as soon as possible and certainly
by the deadline for the next issue. If members hang on to their cheques this
will affect the trading balances of both accounts.
The administrator should process transactions in batches for improved
Aim to process all cheques before each new Directory is produced.

1) Administrator records
member contact
information, offers & wants,
issues chequebooks,
member statements &
reports for the directory.

2) LETS buyer
identifies trading
partner from directory,
writes LETS cheque
and gives to LETS

4) LETS admin
empties LETS box,
processes cheques
and updates ads and
information for next

3) LETS seller posts

cheque to LETS admin
via LETS box (or by
post, or e-mail)

Page 74

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

LETS administration tasks

Membership record keeping
Record keeping is crucial to the smooth running of the system:
Processing new membership applications.
Maintaining contact details.
Registering offers and wants.
These details will form the basis of the local exchange mailing list and directory entries.
All personal computerised information is controlled by the Data Protection Act but the
people involved will have a moral duty of care to ensure that sensitive information remains
confidential and that records are not accessible to people outwith the local exchange.

Adding a new member

When someone enquires about joining your LETS, youll send them an application
form. A completed application and membership subscription should be rewarded with a
welcome pack :
Welcome letter

Make members feel valued and provide them with contact details and a
starting point for trading. See Appendix 6 (page 93)

Membership number

Membership numbers are issued sequentially, and not reused - so if someone

leaves the group, their account remains in the system, but is inactive.
Encourage use of the number as well as a name because that provides an
additional check on identity (some peoples handwriting!)

The latest directory

and membership list

New members will smile if they see that you have handwritten their name at
the bottom of the list, or included an up to date addition.

LETS chequebook

It is possible to have those customised too!

Membership Records
It would be great if all your system records could be kept in a computer database or
spreadsheet but an alphabet paper-file will work fine for small systems.
You will need to record: Membership number
Telephone number
Email address
Offers and wants

Page 75

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Each new member will have listed their offers and wants on their application form:
a brief description of the goods/service offered or wanted
a cost in time, local currency or a combination of LETS and s
It is also a good idea for them to indicate their level of ability:
(A) Amateur (C) Competent (P) Professional


Ill prune your roses in Yourtown (C)


Remedial back massage (P)

15L/s (s=session)

Lifts around Yourtown (C)


Tin flute lessons (A)


Greenhouse for removal


Septic tank repair!


Hall carpet 6m x 1.8m, green

offer on viewing

Lift to airport October

30L return

Berries for jam

offer on viewing

Jam jars


Encourage your members to change their offers and wants with the seasons. If they are
in credit they should advertise what they want, if in debit what they are willing and able to
offer. It is a good idea to renew all ads after a year to keep the directory vital and current.
Short-term ads can appear for one issue only before deletion. A regular notice in each
directory reminding them to pop any ad or contact changes in the LETS box or post
back to the person responsible is a good idea. Reminders can also be printed on their
individual statement.
If a member wishes to leave the system they should first return their account to zero
(your local currency has value!). If in credit they could spend it with another member or
donate them to one of the system accounts. If in debit they may need help in finding a
way to earn their credits back. Some members are happy to swap pounds with the
LETS Admin. account in return for LETS Admin. paying off their LETS balance.

Issuing chequebooks
A local exchange usually uses LETS cheques to record transactions. These are
completed by the buyer and paid to the seller. The seller then posts this to LETS
admin. so that both members accounts can be updated. Of course any form of instruction
could be given either by telephone, e-mail or even on a scrap of paper. Exchange
instructions received by the administrator in a common format speed up data processing
and help prevent mistakes or misunderstandings.
The important thing to remember is that only the buyer can authorise payment from their
account. Members should be encouraged to submit their cheques to the administrator
as soon as possible and certainly before the next directory when statements are issued.
Remember that each transaction cheque will affect two peoples accounts. If a cheque is
not submitted, the buyers account will also be incomplete giving a false impression of
their trading balance.
Page 76

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Cheques can be processed in batches to make the operation more efficient and the
hard copy of the cheque kept for at least one year for reference in the event of a
possible query or a dispute (you need six years for tax purposes). If entries are being
made in batches keep an envelope for each week/month of transactions depending on
transaction volume. The cheque should be marked or scored through once processed
by the administrator to prevent double entry.
As members use up their chequebooks they will need to be replaced. Some systems
make a charge for this in LETS or cash. That way the people who use the system the
most are making a proportional contribution towards the running costs of the local
exchange. Dont impose all the charges mentioned in this kit; decide on the mix that
suits your system!

Chequebook design
You can have fun designing your local LETS cheques to reflect the values and style of
your local group. Consider however print and photocopying costs. It is possible to print
up to 9 cheques on an A4 sheet of paper but 4-6 is the norm. The reverse side of the
cheque can also be used. Some systems use this to record the level of satisfaction
experienced by the buyer. Others print a grid so that the member can keep a running
account of their transactions so that this can be compared with the statement when it is
produced. Have large print chequebooks available for people with impaired vision.

Your record:
Date: 17/04/02
To: Tom Jones
Amount: 25 L
For: Fixing

Yourtown LETS

Date: 17/04/02
A/C No:
A/C No:

George Smith
Tom Jones
Fixing bicycle
Signature: George Smith

Most systems mimic conventional banking cheques and include a stub where the
members themselves can complete copies of the transaction. The example above
includes the basic essentials you will need to record;
The date of the transaction; who the cheque is from and who it is to. Including account
numbers will help to avoid confusion when your system grows to include several George
Smiths. The amount of local currency must of course be included and a space for the
details of the transaction will serve as a check and reminder to both members of the
details of the trade. The signature of the payer will help to validate the transaction.
Here are some tips to consider when designing your chequebooks. (Please see
Appendix 12, page 119, for examples)
Try and design your cheques to reflect the values, integrity and locality of your
They should be simple to use and easy to understand. (Ask a child to complete
one if you are in doubt).
Page 77

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Consider using a coloured paper so that the cheque stands out from ordinary
white paper.
Small cheques (credit card size) can fit in a wallet, pocket or purse. Larger
ones may be read by everyone.
Consider printing a coloured template that can be over printed or photocopied with
each members details. (Some systems include the logo of a local sponsor in return for
meeting the production costs.)

Recording Exchange transactions

Keeping trading records is very like bookkeeping so you need someone who is
comfortable about handling numbers and vouchers (cheques) to get involved in
this part of the systems record keeping.

Simple accounting
You can keep a running total of members accounts using double entry bookkeeping. A
page is kept for each member with details of each transaction. This is then updated
along with that of the person who the exchange was with. The member records are then
photocopied and sent to each member on a regular basis. When you receive a LETS
cheque from a member, you simply credit the person providing the goods or service
with the amount shown on the cheque, and debit the buyers account by the same

A members LETS account and statement usually shows:

The date of the transaction

Written on the cheque or trading sheet ref.

The name of the other party in the transaction

A reminder of who was involved.

A brief details reminder

What was traded. Sensitive trades such as marriage guidance

or therapy can be listed as personal services.

The amount (and whether it was a credit or debit) Crucial that everyone prints neatly!
Running subtotals

Just like in double entry bookkeeping.

Members current balance

Whether they are in abundance or commitment.


Credits and debits together give the quantity of local

energy released through his or her trading.

Service charge

Frequency and amount decided by the membership and

levied by the accounts administrator.

Look for all these elements on the sample member statements shown. The members
shown here are trading amongst themselves and making a contribution towards
administration costs. Can you follow the transactions by reading their statements?
Page 78

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

A members trading summary has been produced that shows the total balance for
trading among these individuals is 0 and the turnover (value of goods and skills
exchanged) is 180. This is what you would expect if all the transactions have been
recorded accurately.

Member Trading Statements

Members Trading Summary






LETS Admin.




George Smith




Albert Andrews





Brenda Black






Page 79

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

LETS System Accounts

A members account number is the same as their membership number. All accounts
start at zero. In addition to individual members accounts, youll need to create a LETS
Admin. account, and possibly an account for LETS Events and LETS Community Chest.
If you want to be able to trade with other LETS groups, you may also need an Intertrading account.
Local Exchange Systems that have a community involvement may operate accounts for
special projects such as a composting scheme, environmental improvement.

The LETS Events account

For the purposes of clarity and accountability it is useful to set up a separate account for
the LETS Events team. The costs of organising social and trading events can then be
met from charges from hiring tables to stall holders or from door proceeds and other
fund-raising initiatives. This also allows the Event organiser to be responsible for keeping
the LETS Event account in balance and may provide an extra source of LETS credit to
help your system get off the ground.

The LETS Community Chest

Some systems operate a Community Chest account and encourage their members to
make occasional donations. This is then awarded to distressed accounts or to meet
unforeseen costs. Members can elect and vote for local good causes at each years
AGM and the LETS awarded to beneficiaries. This can be an excellent way to empower
your members to think of local needs and help make decisions. These do not need to
be members of the LETS system itself. For example, one lets member suggested
organising a local litterbusting team to clear up litter and debris from the stream. The
LETS awarded to her were to be used to buy in sandwiches and entertainment for the
young volunteer workers. In the process many new local people were introduced to
LETS. In another example, the LETS were used to pay off the outstanding balance of a
member who sadly died. The suggestions and decisions are up to your members.

The LETS Administration account

This is where all your administration charges are credited. The Admin. account will also
receive LETS revenue from commission at LETS auctions, advertising in the newsletter
and from ticket charges and raffles. If youre using per transaction admin. charges, youll
deduct the appropriate amount from the buyer, the seller, or both, and credit the Admin.
account by the same sum. The Core Group members and others who carry out work
sanctioned by the membership will receive their LETS income from this account.
Payments from the Admin. account might include editing and producing the directory/
newsletters, collecting the LETS cheques, maintaining the community notice boards,
cheque data entry, providing trading summaries and members statements, collating,
labelling and delivering mailings or providing meeting rooms.
The LETS Admin. account statement showing local currency income and expenditure
generated by system administration can be passed around the Core Group at
management meetings. It is recommended that a summary of this is available to the
membership at least annually along with the Treasurers year-end cash accounts summary.
Page 80

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Charging for administration

The purpose of administration charges is to cover the costs (in LETS currency) of running
the system including designing directories, processing cheques and sending out
information. Unlike the sterling account, it is not critical if the LETS Admin. account goes
into commitment but a downward trend would suggest that the admin. charges need to
be increased or more efficient procedures put in place.
Most Scottish systems do not pay for management meetings attended by the Core
Group. These are usually attended on a voluntary basis so as to protect the LETS
income for more practical and essential services.
Most Scottish LETS charge a regular service charge of between 5 and 20 LETS per
year. Others levy a per transaction charge: such as 1L on each 10 LETS cheques
processed. Some operate a combination of both: 3L per quarter to cover directory and
accounts production, 1L per 10 transactions to cover the cost of cheques processing
and transaction entry.
All other charges are agreed between the account-holders who provide the services
and those that benefit from them. This includes services such as lists of offers and
wants, trading events, quality assurance and so on. At start-up, particularly if cash is an
issue, some of these activities can benefit from external support from a LET System
development group or a suitable sponsor. None of these services need be compulsory
and it is important that account-holders are charged only for the services that they
individually use.
In the initial stages of local exchange development the Core Group often operate without
LETS payment until the volume of transactions reach a reasonable level. They allow
traders to become more experienced before opting to levy transaction charges. At that
point people often become embarrassed about the introduction of charges. However,
the system as a whole does benefit when people earn LETS from administration; the
LETS circulate to those people who are identified by the Core Group as shy traders; in
turn the Core Group feel valued and are more likely to continue the effort required to
keep the system running.

Generating LETS income for your system

Sell box ads in the directory to members who want to stand out. As your membership
grows the directory will become a valuable community-advertising medium. A welldesigned directory will be seen many times during its lifetime, providing excellent
exposure to your advertisers.
Scale your advertising rates to your circulation. 1L per full page per 4 issues per member
is recommended to cover increasing copying and distribution costs as the membership
grows. A large part of this income could be used to cover the cost of your newsletter
team making your directories self-financing in time. This is exactly how free newspapers
A quick and low cost way to share information is via e-mails. Once your membership
grows, consider producing a regular e-mail bulletin to your members. A system with an
email list of 135 members charges 5L for each members email advert.
Page 81

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Consider offering up to say 6 offers & wants free as part of your service but charge 1L for
each extra one.
The LETS administration may be prepared to offer extra services to the benefit of the
LETS Admin. account. These could include typing CVs, printing business cards and
stationery, designing ads or posters, offering a telephone reception service (for members
without telephones), marketing help etc.

Balancing the LETS budget

Most LETS Core Groups operate a co-operative pay rate of below the going hourly
rate. Working at the same rate as everyone else on the Core Group creates a team
spirit and working for less than the system hourly rate demonstrates the goodwill of the
group to the system.
If LETS funds are slow to build up you could also consider a task-related pay structure;
for example 80L for producing the Newsletter/Directory regardless of the extra time it
may take. Whatever method you choose it is important to be seen to be fair and to set
a good example for your members to follow. Ideally the LETS Admin. account should
stay within the system trading limits and abide by the same rules as individual members.
It is therefore essential that you develop a sustainable budget as your membership
grows, or shrinks, and that you set charges with the consent and approval of your
One way to work out a budget for system administration is to create a share of the cake
or proportional budget.
First list all of the tasks involved in running your LET System and approximate the time
they take:
Managing the cash accounts (Treasurers role): 5 hours per cycle (hpc)
Producing 4 quarterly directories/newsletters (Publishers role): 35 hpc
Producing membership packs, stationery, chequebooks (Administrators role):
25 hpc
Recording transactions, updating members contact information and offers and
wants, creating directory list and reports (Administrators role): 25 hpc
Canvassing new members, organising meetings, recording minutes etc.
(Co-ordinators role) 10 hpc
The total hours required is approximately 100 hours.
Second, calculate the approximate
proportion of tasks:
Administration 50%
Newsletter Publisher 35%
Co-ordinator 10%
Treasurer 5%

Page 82

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Third, create a pie chart of the relative work/effort/time or skill involved each cycle or
chosen time period. With the exception of start up tasks and reports for the AGM, most
tasks will be regular and frequent and will relate loosely to the number of members you
serve each cycle.
Fourth, calculate the LETS income from your current membership per cycle.
50 members pay 3L service charge per cycle

= 150L

50 members pay an average 300 transactions @ 1L/10

= 30L

Additional income from advertising per directory

= 30L

Additional miscellaneous LETS income

= 30L

Total LETS Income

= 240L per cycle

Five, share the income proportionately between the team;

e.g. Administration

50% x 240

= 120L


35% x 240

= 84L


10% x 240

= 24L


5% x 240

= 12L

Total Expenditure:

= 240L per cycle

Six, monitor and review regularly and amend accordingly. A co-operative payment rate
allows the whole team to pull together to increase the size of the cake and in doing so
increase the LETS income for everyone. It also helps to ensure a balanced Admin.
Although Core Group members are individually responsible for performing their agreed
tasks they can share their pay with other members when they need help. Grow the
team as your LETS income develops. In this way your Core Group members become
your systems catalysts, as they must exchange their LETS income with other members.

Page 83

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

LETS statements
Your members will require a regular statement of their personal transactions. If these are
issued along with each issue of the directory, it will give them an opportunity to spend
their credits or earn back their debits before the next issue appears. The statement
should give your members a clear and accurate account of all transactions since the last
statement period. Always include the contact details of the Administrator for queries and
error reporting.
Although overall balances and turnovers should be published openly and seen by all;
complete personal statements are only seen by the account holders. The Administrator
needs to respect the confidentiality of members trading records, as some of these may
occasionally be sensitive (counselling services and financial advice for example).

Making the most of your records

The LETS Administrator produces an overall trading summary to be published at regular
intervals. This is essential to inform your members of their current trading position. Try
and encourage your members to keep each other in balance and within your systems
agreed exchange limit. Someone in big minus tends to attract more offers of work, while
those in big plus attract people who can do things for them. This level of openness
helps to maintain trust in the integrity of the system and minimises the need for credit
control. When every individual trades within his or her limits the entire system stays
healthy and vibrant. This is how you empower your members to help each other.

This is the sum of a members debits and credits. If a member earns 100 credits and
spends 50, their balance is +50 LETS. Members should be encouraged to actively
spend and earn LETS, keeping their balance within the system limits. The sum of all the
account balances must always be zero. This validates the integrity of the LETS accounts
to the membership. This also protects the membership from hidden accounts or nonpaired transactions (every credit must also have a debit).

This represents the total trades i.e. if a member earns 100 credits and spends 50, their
turnover is 150 LETS. Members should be encouraged to trade frequently to increase
their turnover. Members with the largest turnovers are usually the most committed to the
system and are often willing and able candidates for the Core Group.

Page 84

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Exchange Limits
Most systems apply an exchange limit within which their members must trade. Typically
this is plus or minus 100 to 500 LETS. The level depends on the perceived risk of
default. Members who exceed this limit often require Core Group help to identify what
they can offer or what they could use. Some systems have a method of increasing
exchange limits for the most active members. Typically this is around 10% of turnover;
someone who trades a lot can borrow or store more LETS. This also provides an incentive
to trade more often. Some systems highlight those members who have exceeded their
limit to encourage people to help them exchange. Some systems charge an excess
penalty fee as a further discouragement.
If all this sounds a bit too bossy, remember that with human nature the way it is people
often need reminding about their obligations to others. Once a system is running with a
good participation rate and healthy turnover it may need some intervention to keep the
transaction cycle turning smoothly. The penalties are usually only put in place to cater for
extreme cases. Setting boundaries for trading behaviour is recommended by the most
successful LETS and by those which have failed! If people are encouraged to actively
seek and trade with those at the extremes of their balance limits it helps to produce an
inclusive community of traders.
On the following page is a more detailed example of a LETS Trading Statement and
a Members Trading Summary. These types of statement can be produced automatically
by system transaction software packages. The summary box top right would be
completed at the end of the recording period, e.g. quarterly.

Page 85

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Yourtown LETS Trading Statement

Your Local Exchange Trading System
Your transactions between 23rd November 2002 to 28th February 2003

Produced for you on 17th March 2003

George Smith
68 Yourtown Lane
AA12 345
Phone: 12345

Member No: 8
Statement No: 1

Please let us know if these details change

Exchange Limit: (plus or minus)



On (date)

You Traded with




Carol Hardie



Brian Smillie

Car Tow


Tarik Sulman

Fixing kettle


LETS Events

Stall at Trade Fair



LETS Admin

Quarterly Service Charge



Shaun Taylor

Collecting shopping



Sheila Andrews

Aromatherapy session


Agnus Anderson

Sale of lawnmower


Sam Beattie

Spring Fair Wee hamper



James Duguid

Spring Fair Windchimes



Shirley Magnuson

Spring Fair Tea + cake



Nora Dempsey

Spring Fair CDs



Caroline Napier

Spring Fair CDs










Produced by your LETS admin: All queries please contact Sheila Armstrong, 01234 56789
Page 86


Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Yourtown LETS Trading Summary

17 March 2003
Ac. No Name






Astrid Holt






Mandy Lueg






David Hutcheson


c/o 173513




Carmen Umtebbe






Yvonne Weaver






Tina Whyte











Other members records


Lorna Anderson


Geraldine Creswell Yourtown



Fabio Johnstone


no phone




Vanessa Villani






Lorna Stuart






Jenny Normand






Skip Worgan





Lois Sommerville





Hector Heavenstone Yourtown



Stewart MacLean





Alexander Noble














YourLETS EVENTS Yourtown





* Overall members accounts balance to zero - * Totals:

* If a credit has been recorded for every debit in the form of a full exchange, the sum of all accounts should always
be zero. This is a good way to check the integrity of the accounts.
Page 87

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Page 88

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

LETS software
Once your system grows it is recommended that you acquire proprietary software to
help you manage your system efficiently. It is no coincidence that LET Systems have
flourished since computers have become more accessible and affordable. Computer
software can help you manage your accounts more quickly, allowing you to work within
a LETS budget based on a service charge which your members can afford. It is now
possible for a home user to provide a similar level of accounts reporting that until recently
only the high street banks could provide. Computers can also help your reports to be
presented in a professional manner that will help to build trust in the system.
Integrated office applications such as Microsoft Office Professional allow seamless
integration between databases, spreadsheets, documents, the web and PowerPoint
presentations. This can save lots of time and allow you to produce personalised mail
merge documents, labels and chequebooks whilst minimising the need for duplicated
data entry.
Licensed software can be expensive but you may find that one of your members is
prepared to share their licensed copy. Alternatively enquire about discounted software
for educational establishments.
Whatever software you choose, here are a few simple guidelines;
1. Always backup your critical data to a floppy disk, zip drive or secondary hard
drive regularly. Alternatively e-mail irreplaceable data to another member of
the Core Group for safekeeping. (Hard disks have been known to fail, losing
all data in the process.)
2. If you connect your PC to the Internet, protect it well from virus attacks. (We
recommend Norton Anti-Virus, it is available for download from the web free of
charge). The Norton site also provides a free live update service to keep your
virus list current.
3. Keep hard copies of directories, correspondence and reports they are more
accessible to others.
4. Ensure that more than one person can have access to the software and can
operate it fully.
There are only two LETS related software packages available at present in the UK. The
designers, who are also LETS activists, support their applications with a help-line. Both
also require Microsoft Access to run. (Microsoft Access is part of the Microsoft Office
Professional application). We have asked both designers to contribute a review of their
own products, see Appendix 5 (pages 90-91). Timebanks UK provide a free software
package to administer registered timebanks. If you chose to operate using time as your
currency you might benefit from their software.

Page 89

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Appendix 5
LOIS Lets Office Integration System
Lois (Lets Office Integration System) is a powerful Windows-based PC software package
which has been designed for quick and easy LETS scheme administration. It was written
in 1997 and is currently being used by LETS schemes all over the world. Lois is available
to help with all your LETS scheme administration functions.
Look and Feel

Lois is an intuitive, menu-driven application. From the main menu, you can easily
access all functions. Even first time computer users will find Lois extremely easy to
use and it comes complete with on-line help facilities.


Information can be stored on all the members on the scheme including name, address,
phone numbers, current balance, joining and renewal details, etc.


The services section contains information about all the services that are offered or
wanted by members of the scheme. A hierarchical system has been implemented
whereby all offers and wants are divided into groups, categories and services to
allow easy entry and analysis of information. The system has been designed to
accommodate over 700 services.

Member Services The member services section provides an easy point of entry to edit the wants and
offers of each member. Search facilities are provided to find the most appropriate
group, category and service for each offer or want.

All transactions that are carried out by the members can be entered and stored within
the system. The transactions screen has been designed to make it as easy as possible
to look up information about members and services.


It is possible to view the trading details for each member of the scheme. This screen
has been based on the bank statement format that most people will be familiar with.


A range of reports has been included to allow information stored within the system to
be output to the screen, a printer or exported to a file. This includes the production of
a directory containing all the services offered by each member.

& Consultancy


In addition to supplying the software, training and consultancy can also be provided
at a reasonable cost to assist in all aspects of LETS software and computer
The cost of the software is 125 and cheques should be made payable to Jerry

For more information, contact:

Jerry Vahrman, Lois Software,
Tel: (0117) 951 3971, E-Mail: Lets@LoisSoftware.Com, Web Site: www.LoisSoftware.Com
Page 90

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

LET SAM System Administration Manager

SAM is a fully integrated package that allows fast and effective administration combined
with open and transparent reporting. SAM is easy and intuitive to use Just follow the
coloured circles that lead you through the modules. It is user friendly, can be modified
for use in different languages and customised for different locations and LETS models
including multi-edition. The system generates personalised chequebooks, statements
as well as numerous useful reports including a ready formatted directory of members
offers and wants, ready for photocopying. Many repetitive tasks have been automated
to make the admin simpler and more efficient.
The software was developed in parallel with New Moray LETS, which now serves 400
active members trading around 200,000 L per year. During Summer 2000, SAM was
adapted as a MULTI-LETS system for the LETSlink Festival 2000 serving 500 traders
from 30 different systems. We traded 48,000 LETS in just two days! SAM has since been
tested in 6 varied systems across Scotland including Inverness, Keith, Ellon, Stirling &
Alloa and West Glasgow.
Member Details

A full personal information manager containing an overview of each members contact

details including offers & wants and statements. Fully searchable and quick to use.
Select members to mail merge, print personalised chequebooks, keep notes and


Auto complete and field locking for multiple transactions allows very fast data entry.
Automatic exchange entries (paired) maintain integrity and balanced accounts.


Imports your most commonly used documents and files for quick and easy access.
Comes with start-up samples, application pack, sample constitutions, directories,
welcome letter and other useful documents. Print chequebooks, directories, letters
and newsletters customised through SAM with members details and other information.


Imports your favourite web links, click to autodial and take you straight to that site.
Comes with a comprehensive list of LETS related sites.


Fifteen commonly used reports and functions including Find a trading partner (sorted
in order of commitment); automated graphic trading summaries, reports sorted by
balance, turnover, membership number, transaction count, telephone tree, generate
e-mail list and others.


On or off-line help and support including direct linking for remote training by
experienced LETS traders. Establishing user group.

Inter trading

Users can soon choose to inter trade on-line without duplicate record entry and
reciprocal accounting procedures.
The Complete package includes customising, installation, training & support (via
laplink), first year user license and free upgrades. 1L per active member in following
years funds development and support programme.

For more information, contact:

Stewart Noble or Jeremy Perron, Community Exchange Software
Tel: (01309) 676128 or (01309) 674743, E-Mail:, Web Site:
Page 91

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Page 92

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Appendix 6
Sample welcome letter

Monday, 17 June 2002

FirstName Surname
Town PostCode

Nadine Kamir
01847 556128
Nadine Kamir
01847 556128

Hi FirstName,
Welcome to Yourtown LETS; you have joined at an exciting time as we recently reached our fifty-member
landmark! Your account number is No. Thats No local people who can now exchange local goods and services with
each other without needing to use cash. Other members of your household can also use this account with your permission.
LETS is sensible, sustainable and fun too; building relationships within your own local community. Remember that you
can also inter-trade with members of Anywhere and Anytime LETS.
Your local LETS notice board is in Yourtown Community Centre in the foyer, next to the library. There youll also see the
LETS post box. Simply post your credit notes, ad changes, wish list or other instructions there too. Its emptied every week
and your instructions processed. The notice board is also your way to inform other LETS members of any immediate offers
and wants.
Your Yourtown LETS credit book is enclosed. You can start trading straight away; you dont need to be in credit first. You
can earn or spend up to 250L or 10% of your total turnover; whichever is highest. We ask that you return your account to zero
if you exceed this amount, stop trading, or wish to leave the system.
Remember that theres no interest to pay and that by giving another member a job you help the currency flow and create the
wealth that gets passed around. And what goes around comes around. Let us know when your credit book is nearly used up
and well send you another.
Youll receive your first personal quarterly statement of transactions along with your next Directory within the next three months.
Phone me if you need to check your balance at any other time.
The best way for our local LETS System to grow is by you telling your family, friends and neighbours about the
scheme. This increases diversity and encourages trading. Just pop a note of their name and address in the box and Ill send
them a starter pack similar to the one you received. Help them complete it if you can; most people need help in identifying what
they could offer. Trading in LETS is about helping each other get things done and supporting each other locally. However,
always be clear about the price, terms and standard of workmanship before agreeing to trade. If in doubt, ask around. Have
fun, happy trading. Lets make it better than ever this year!

Nadine Kamir
Yourtown LETS

P.S. Keep an eye on the LETS noticeboard for new information and please come along to our quarterly LETSParty,
LETSTradeFair or LETSAuction
Page 93

Section 4: LETS organise trade!

Page 94

Section 5: Managing old money

Section 5:
Managing old money

Page 95

Section 5: Managing old money

Page 96

Section 5: Managing old money

Managing old money

How the resources of the organisation are used is the responsibility of the whole Core
Group. Most LET Systems have a Treasurer to look after the pounds. Ensure that you
have clear written rules for banking and spending money and keep to them. Protect the
organisation and the reputation of Core Group members by agreeing appropriate rules
and checking that they are being applied consistently.
The Treasurer is responsible for opening a bank account and recording cash income
and expenditure. The Treasurer is accountable to the Core Group and prepares an
annual report for each years AGM for ratification by the members.
The banking and spending rules need to be in place, and widely understood by the
Core Group, to reduce the risk of abuse of the organisations trust and, equally, to avoid
unfounded accusations of misuse of funds. However, such rules, on their own, will not
ensure the money is spent on achieving really effective LETS services. To make progress
on this the Core Group needs to develop clear priorities for activity, usually for a period
of at least a year.
Once this is done it gives a nice clear framework for monitoring that the organisations
resources are being spent on these priorities. The Treasurer can present the Core
Group with a regular review of expected spending and actual spending for each activity
area as the year progresses.

What all Core Group members should know about the money
How much money the system has now (bank balance + unbanked items +
petty cash).
How much money the system expects to have and what it is to be used for.
Are your funding plans on target, or will you need to cut back to keep within
your current budgets?
What the money received from different sources is for. Membership money
may need to be set aside for printing directories, buying stamps and paying
for hall hire for events. Grant money from the Council may be given for particular
activities, such as purchasing essential equipment. Dont fall into the trap of
thinking that because there is plenty of money in the bank account it is OK to
spend it on anything.
Set realistic fundraising targets, and a have clear policy of not spending projected
income before you have actually got it!

Banking the money

Open up a club or society bank account. Some banks offer special accounts
for clubs and voluntary organisations free of commercial service charges.
These are often called treasurers accounts. You will need a copy of your
constitution and samples of signatures.

Page 97

Section 5: Managing old money

Bank all income this gives a clear record of what money has come in. Do
not let people spend the membership money as it comes in as spending
can gradually drift away from the organisations priority activities. Make sure
the bank account is held at a branch that is convenient for the person responsible
for banking money. It may be unrealistic to bank more than once per week but
agree a rule and stick to it.
Have a minimum of 2 signatures on all cheques for spending the
organisations cash. Most LETS identify 3 or 4 people in the Core Group to be
authorised signatories for cheques and each cheque must be signed by any
two of them. This means that if someone is away, or ill, there are still other
people who can authorise the spending. Make sure the chequebook is kept
somewhere safe.
Reconcile your accounts book with your bank statements on a regular basis.
(Banks have been known to make mistakes!)

Accounting for the money

Always keep all the evidence showing how money has been spent: Receipts
from the Post Office for stamps, invoices from the Council for hall hire, and so
on. You will need this trail of paperwork to back up how you have spent the
money. Most LETS have a small enough cash turnover that they do not need
to have a formal audit by an accountant. However it is a good idea to get
someone with appropriate skills to:
9 Check whether it all adds up and there is no money missing.
9 Provide advice on whether the procedures you have used are appropriate
and are being kept to.
9 Report to the AGM (see Constitution, Appendix 1, page 47).
This is about keeping the confidence of your members and any outside funders and
learning to keep the work involved in doing this down to an elegantly small amount.
Run your System on a not for profit basis but dont forget that it must cover
its own running costs. It is wise to build in a contingency for unforeseen
expenses. In time many cash items can be replaced by LETS; a printer may
be encouraged to photocopy the directories in exchange for help by LETS
members in the packing department. One system gets its postage stamps
from a member who donates them in exchange for LETS. Developing LETS
trading may in time completely eradicate the need for the system to need
cash and be sustainable entirely in local currency! To start with though you will
need cash for things like postage and printing, stationery and equipment.
Be clear about what money can be spent on; classic danger areas are travel
expenses, hospitality expenses and the use of petty cash.
Travel expenses for doing work for the organisation can become a rapid drain on the
organisations funds. If it is unclear who is entitled to claim and how much it is reasonable
to claim problems are bound to arise along with a lot of ill feeling. Is it bus fares, car
mileage (if so at what rate), taxi fares? Dont spend money you do not have however

Page 98

Section 5: Managing old money

much you are motivated by equal opportunities. If there is a good case to be made for
supporting travel expenses make it to a local grant funding body; social inclusion funds
can be helpful for this.
Hospitality is another danger area tea and coffee for Core Group meetings may be
fine, cases of beer for the social events subcommittee may be less fine. Agree rules
and stick to them.
Petty cash is there to deal with small, unpredictable expenses. Have an upper limit on
the amount of any petty cash payment. 20-30 would be quite sufficient for most LETS
organisations. Be clear about what it can be spent on stationery, small amounts of
stamps, bus fares. If problems arise it may also be necessary to be clear what it cannot
be spent on. These rules are important as they give the Treasurer clear guidance from
the group. The Treasurer should not be put in the awkward position of agreeing to
payment requests from other members when there may be doubt over the acceptability
of the claim.
Keep a register of the systems assets
Equipment and other items purchased by the system need to be recorded in an asset
register so that they can be passed on to any successors. This may include items such
as computers, software, guillotine, staple gun, stationery etc. The current assets need
to be included in the year-end accounts summary.

Page 99

Section 5: Managing old money

Managing the money

The Treasurer can present the Core Group with a regular review of expected spending
and actual spending for each activity area as the year progresses. If the Core Group are
given guidance on using this kind of management account, so members feel confident
using it as a decision making tool, they will be in a much better position to make informed
decisions, than if they are simply told how much money is in the bank this week.
The following mini management account is offered as an example of this tool:
You are the Treasurer and you have been keeping track of the money from April 1st
2003. This is the information you could present to the Core Group in February 2004:

Yourtown LETS Management Account January 2004

Spending ()
Budget Heading
01 Equipment

Printing Newsletter
Membership of other
09 Training
10 Printing (Other)/stationary
11 Contingency

Budget 2003-4

Expected Spending to Jan 04

Actual Spending to Jan 04













Equipment: the guillotine and heavy-duty stapler we planned to buy were on special offer - 8 remaining can be spent on other office
Newsletter & Directory: The invoice for the November issues had not been received when this account was prepared so spending is
125 lower than expected.
Events: Higher expenditure reflects the need to buy in extra beer on the night of the Barn Dance. This was sold producing extra
We currently hold 20 worth of postage stamps.
Insurance is due to be paid at the end of February.

Page 100

Section 5: Managing old money

Income ()
Projected Income 2003-4

New members fees

Members fees
Events Income
LETS for Cash
LETS Balance payments


Projected Income To Jan 04

Actual Income To Jan 04







Balance in bank: 110 (includes Petty Cash 12.50)

New members income: 9 at 10, 4 at 5. Several more than expected.
Members income:

48 at 10, 52 at 5. 10 members did not renew, 4 more than expected

Events Income:

Trade Fair and Auction; June 10, Sept 10, Dec 15, est. March 12.
Summer barbecue 63
Barn Dance 326 (target revenue was 250, ticket sales and bar profits higher than expected,
sent out for more beer!)
Raffle; dance 85, Christmas 125.


A payment of 150 from the Council towards our hall hire expenses is expected in March. Our funding income
will be 50 higher than expected.

Management account analysis

The Core Group can now see, with two months to go before the end of the financial year,
whether the budget is being spent according to prediction or not. In this example it
looks as if income will exceed expenditure by a small margin and that there has been a
cushion of 110 carried from the previous year.
You may also note that the amount of money raised and spent in relation to events is the
same. This LET System has decided to use its profit from events to subsidise the
childrens Christmas Party and the Easter Egg Hunt; for which only local currency charges
are made.
Further guidance for the LET System Treasurer is provided in the Appendix:
See Appendix 7

- Job description for Yourtown LETS System Treasurer

See Appendix 8

- Sample cash accounts ledger

See Appendix 9

- Sample annual summary

Page 101

Section 5: Managing old money

Page 102

Section 5: Managing old money

Appendix 7
LETS Sterling Treasurer job description
This is a guide only. You will need to agree the specific objectives, tasks and remuneration
with the Core Group.
Elected by the membership for 2 years in office and reporting to the Core Group
and the AGM.

To accurately record and keep current, all financial transactions.
To do this efficiently and with integrity, respecting the confidentiality of private
To report on financial position at monthly meetings and AGM.
To maintain a Treasurers file of accounts, bank statements and
To network effectively with other team members as required.
To train your successor on procedures to ensure continuity.

Key Tasks:

Receive invoices and receipts from Core Group members.
Receive new members subscriptions from LETS Administrator.
Return application forms (once recorded) to Co-ordinator.
Arrange payments and cheque signing.
Keep Treasurers file up to date (file bank statements, invoices, receipts,
correspondence etc.).
Report on accounts at monthly Core Group meetings.

Reconcile accounts with bank statements.

Prepare and present formal summary of annual accounts for AGM (spring).

0.1L per quarter per active member (paid quarterly by Lets Administrator).

Give your Co-ordinator maximum notice of holidays for adequate holiday
cover to be arranged.

Page 103

Section 5: Managing old money

Appendix 8
Sample Treasurers cash account ledger
Yourtown System cash accounts for the period _________ to _________
recorded by

(name of treasurer)

Balance carried forward from previous page:








01/01/01 New member fee - Jim Smith




04/01/01 Council Community Grant




05/01/01 Stationery (Viking Direct)


06/01/01 New member fee Carol Jones


11/01/01 100 x 2nd class postage stamps


14/01/01 Close account George Simm 25L owing


16/01/01 Annual membership to Letslink Scotland




24/01/01 Hire of Town Hall for Trade fair





Category Code


Printing Newsletter
Membership of other
Printing (Other)/stationary

(Tick when appears on bank statement)

Page 104









New members fees

Members fees
Events income
LETS for cash
LETS Balance payments

Section 5: Managing old money

Appendix 9
Sample Treasurers year-end summary
Yourtown System pounds accounts for the period _________ to _________
Prepared by _________________________ (name of treasurer)
Approved by _________________________ (name of auditor)

This Year

Last Year


Printing Newsletter
Membership of other Organisations
Printing (Other)/stationary

Total Expenditure:

New members fees

Members fees
Events Income
LETS for Cash
LETS Balance payments

Total Income:
Balance held in bank:
Assets owned by System:

Cost Held by

PC & printer
2 Staple guns
Postage stamps

560.00 11/11/00
22.00 17/09/00
9.80 17/09/00
30 x 2nd class 6.60


Current estimated re-sell value of assets250.00

Page 105

Section 5: Managing old money

Generating old money

All projects including LETS and Timebanks need some cash input. Money is required
for stationary and postage, photocopying and telephone costs.
The important thing to bear in mind is that your local currency can be used to do a lot of
the work of fund-raising and that by organising and staging cash events using your own
currency you can stimulate trade and involve both new members and people finding it
hard to trade without support. Raising the small amounts of cash for operating costs can
involve all the tried and tested methods:

Membership charges
Discos, dances and Ceilidh
Race nights
Beetle drives
Childrens concerts

A successful local exchange fundraising event will:

Be fun and value for money for the people taking part
Provide some reward to the people organising the event
Involve the use of local currency
Provide a worthwhile return on the investment of time and resources

The LETS quiz night

To provide an entertaining social evening for members and friends and raise cash for
the local exchange funds.

Hall Hire
Cheese and biscuits

Local Currency


Quiz Master



Prizes kids/adults




Entrance 50 x 2+2L
Page 106

Local Currency




Section 5: Managing old money

A great evening involving over fifty adults and children, prizes bought in local currency
from local artists, or donated by the local shop that was given advertising space on the
publicity material. Local currency generation leading to increased trade amongst people
who now know each other better. 59 to help run the system!

Page 107

Section 5: Managing old money

Project funding
Local Exchange Systems have a proven capacity to support vulnerable people, build
trust, forge networks, create good will and provide work for people who struggle in
conventional work situations. These are the attributes that will deservedly attract funding
by a large number of bodies that are interested in supporting community development,
environmental improvements or community support in health care.
The first port of call for funding a local exchange project is your local Council. Councils
often have Community Chest or Small Grant schemes designed to support community
development and local charities and could provide an annual grant to help towards
advertising and printing costs, funding for a computer or hall rental.
Established local exchange systems often generate sufficient energy and community
support to run projects associated with the system. Examples include:
Mental Health projects where people are encouraged to trade to develop
self-confidence and self-esteem.
Community cafes where therapeutic work opportunities are offered and healthy
eating and food hygiene are taught.
Recycling projects and scrap stores where new use is found for discarded
materials and a contribution is made towards sustainable development.
Furniture stockpiles where communities redirect furniture to those in need using
local currency to help fuel refurbishment activity.
Community composting schemes where people can donate or buy compost
for local currency.

Funding advice
The first port of call will be your local Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) or SCVO who
will give you access to Funderfinder, a computer database of funding organisations.
These organisations will also provide help in developing your project idea.

The following funders are all known to have supported LETS and Time Bank related
projects in the past:
The Community Fund
Local Councils
Charitable Trusts and Foundations:
Lloyds TSB Foundation, Nationwide, Tudor Trust, Phoenix Fund, Landfill Tax
Trusts, Shell Better Britain Campaign.

Government funding
The European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund are available to
support large and medium sized projects. Scottish Executive funding is available in a
Page 108

Section 5: Managing old money

number of forms, often administered by bodies such as SCVO (Council for Voluntary
Organisations) or channelled through Social Inclusion Partnerships. Seek up to date
advice through the SCVO Funderfinder service or check for information on the LETSlink
Scotland website.

Useful reference materials:

Practical Fundraising for Individuals and Small Groups. Wragg,1995, Piatkus.
The Guide to UK Company Giving, Directory of Social Change.
A Guide to the Major Trusts Vol I and Vol II, Directory of Social Change.
The Directory of Grant Making Trusts, Charities Aid Foundation.
Scottish Trusts Guide, Directory of Social Change.

Page 109

Section 5: Managing old money

Project design
To convince a grant making body to support your project you need to spend time
consulting stakeholders (the people the project will affect), deciding your objectives
and deciding the scope and time frame of the project. An idea of what will be involved
in this process can be gauged by employing S.M.A.R.T. objectives.
Does the project meet a specific need/problem or is it too general?
Can you supply facts and figures to back you up?
Quote recent surveys, reports, well-known figures in the community, newspaper articles etc.
How are you going to quantify its success?
Who will it reach?
How will you know it has been successful (or reached these people)?
What will be achieved?
How will you evaluate this?
Do you have the staff, volunteers, knowledge and resources to carry out the project?
Is your budget realistic?
Does the project fit in with your community exchanges aims and objectives?
Does it fill a real need?
Are there other organisations that are already doing this?
How are you going to cooperate or work with them?
Does the project have a beginning, a middle and an end?

Page 110

Section 5: Managing old money

Basic Components of a Proposal

Some funders will provide an application form; others will ask for a written proposal and
give some guidelines on the sort of information required. In any case it is a good idea
to write out your proposal in a form that can be used to inform your members, community
council, local councillors and MP/MSP as part of the consultation exercise. You will
need to gain support for the project and other people may have good suggestions on
how to improve the proposal.

Title of project/aim
Example: Yourtown Community Caf Project - Eating our way to health!
Make the title something smart, snappy, eye-catching so that it commands attention.

Introduction of organisation
This can include your mission statement. It should be short - 50 words - or a paragraph.

Executive summary of proposal

This needs to be a clear well organised piece geared to attract attention from the start.

The need
Why is this project necessary? This is where you can back up your argument with figures,
statistics, the results of a survey etc. Example: Yourtown has had a 20% increase in
admissions for heart related illness in the last 20 years. The loss of local food outlets
has made the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables too high for many low-income families.
There is a need to provide access to low cost fresh food and education in its value and

Description of project
Aims: the overall intention of the project.
Objectives: what you hope to achieve.
Methods staffing and administration: the resources required to achieve the objectives.
Evaluation: how you will assess if objectives have been met.
Conclusion: a summary of the key points, benefits and the project legacy.

Can be separate from the main submission

Information about your organisation

Can be separate - Report to the AGM, Newsletter, and Constitution.

Case Study
Stirling and Alloa LETS
There is another case study in Appendix 10 (page 112)

Page 111

Section 5: Managing old money

Appendix 10
Project Title: LETS Recycle in Kincardine
Kincardine on Forth is situated South of Alloa at the north end of a bridge spanning
the Forth estuary. The main employers in the area are British Coal and Scottish
Power. The village has few amenities and is over ten miles from sizable towns.
Kincardine LETS facilitates the development of community networks and mutually
beneficial interactions between both individuals and organisations through trading
in a local currency, the Tullie. Membership is open to all with the aim of fostering
an interdependence and equality that creates opportunities for the socially excluded
to be valued as productive members of society. Kincardine LETS creates an informal
system of neighbours that operates like an extended family and enables participants
to convert their time, energy and talents into purchasing power by helping others.

Project Summary
The LETS Recycle Project proposes to employ a community development worker as a
LETS broker to build LETS membership, facilitate trading between members and recruit
healthcare, youth development and other community organisations to the system.
The project will grow the system to a viable self-sustaining size and provide excluded
individuals within the Kincardine area with access to food, alternative therapies, goods
and household services without the need for cash. The project is an investment in social

The Need
In Fife, the polarities between rich and poor are widening and social exclusion
is increasing. Voluntary groups report a dwindling and ageing volunteer base
and many potential users do not wish to ask for help and are finding it difficult
to meet the cost of care. The market economy only values those things that
are scarce and devalues such things as caring, neighbourliness or civic
involvement. LETS provides an alternative access to resources and can
empower communities to overcome problems caused by lack of cash
In Fife, opportunities for elderly people to find productive activity, people
recovering from mental health problems getting back into community interaction,
useful involvement of asylum seekers, integration of ethnic minorities, are at
present very restricted. LETS provides a vehicle through which people can
interact and show that they have a useful contribution to make even if they
have no money.
In Fife, local unemployment has risen in recent months from 5% to10% due to
multinational company closures. LETS allows unemployed people opportunities
to practice new skills, learn new ones or feel useful again by supporting others.
In Fife, there are many families under strain where work itself is the problem
and time for relaxation and fun are reduced. LETS can allow the greater material
resources of some people to be exchanged for help around the house,
counselling or alternative therapies to relieve stress.
Page 112

Section 5: Managing old money

In Kincardine, out of 300 households surveyed by Fife Council, only 3%

composted their waste. Meeting the Scottish Executives targets for organic
waste recycling will require greater effort on the part of the community.
In Kincardine the same survey found that fewer than 30% of people are meeting
the Health Board target for fresh vegetable consumption.
At present Kincardine LETS has a membership of fifteen and the present membership
has been unable to find individuals with the necessary time and personal skills to
publicise and expand the system. In other LETS and in Timebanks the presence of
a facilitator or broker has a demonstrable effect on the diversity of membership,
volume of trade and impact on inclusivity.

The Project
Employment of a Community Worker (18hrs per week) for 1 year
Provision of LETS Management Software, computer and work base

To develop a viable local exchange economy in the Kincardine area capable of
providing trading opportunities for all members of the local community.

Increase LETS membership to 80 by 2004
Involve two people from each of the following groups in the project:
Black or Asian, asylum seekers, people recovering from mental health
challenges, unemployed, recovering patients, long-term carers.
Develop a community based composting scheme based on LETS
membership, involving 20 participants and 40 beneficiaries, within 1 year.
Develop trade in fresh vegetables involving 10 growers and 30 beneficiaries
within 1 year.
Teach four members how to operate the LETS database and directory publisher

The LETS Broker would report to Kincardine LETS Committee, be based in
shared office accommodation in Kincardine and be responsible for the
organisation of meetings, publicity, liaison with relevant community authorities,
development workers and external agencies.
The broker would actively promote trading between individuals and would
seek to pair people in surplus with those in commitment with a view to
increasing trade.
The broker would give particular help to people from excluded groups in
order to overcome barriers to trading.
The broker would help to identify skills in individuals and provide help and
advice on education and training.
The broker would identify needs in the community and seek the relevant skills
to satisfy those needs, where appropriate.
The broker would maintain records of trading and train LETS members in the
use of trading software.
Page 113

Section 5: Managing old money

Fife Council has agreed to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the project in
meeting its aims and objectives.

Kincardine LETS believes that the LETS Recycle Project will make a valuable contribution
to sustainable development in West Fife, strengthen the local economy and promote
community cohesion and inclusion.
At the end of the project there will be a self-sustaining LETS community, composting
waste, growing organic vegetables and involving a large group of people in useful
educational and community development activities.

Office costs


Administration includes accountancy, management costs and insurance.

Page 114

Section 5: Managing old money

Appendix 11
Example grant application to a Local Authority

Stirling & Alloa LETS

Grants and Funding Officer
Community Services
Stirling Council
Stirling FK8 2ET
Dear Catherine Smith
I enclose our application for funding from the community grants fund. As you may be aware from discussions with
Mary Summers, Stirling and Alloa LETS has run into difficulties both with a reduction in funding from outside
bodies and management and procedural issues that have reduced the effectiveness of the organisation.
Since the publication of the Review Report compiled by Mary Summers the LETS Management Committee have
acted on advice to clarify our financial and decision making procedures. We have also had a donation of 260 from
one of our members to clear the remaining rent payment for the office in Irvine Place.
We aim to focus on regaining the systems previous effectiveness as a focus for self-empowerment and community
development through exchange trading.
Our grant application is focused around continuing our learning process through two, one- day management
committee training sessions, whilst running the regular trading and social events, and producing the directory,
newsletter and trading statements which are the core services to our members. We have identified ways of paying
for many of these activities through the spending of the 480 Groats local currency we levy in quarterly administration
charges, but we are applying for cash for items such as printing, stationery and travel expenses (on social inclusion
grounds) which cannot be paid for in local currency. This grant application was agreed at the Management
Committee meeting on 4th February as an appropriate way of underpinning the necessary change-management
work required over the next 3-4 months.
Our new membership year begins in April 2002. It is our intention to meet the organisations future cash needs from
a combination of membership income and applications for development funding from appropriate bodies. This
strategy will be discussed further at the training session in March.
If you require any further information or clarification please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours sincerely

Lesley Sycamore
Lesley Sycamore
S&A LETS Committee Member

Page 115

Section 5: Managing old money

Application to
Stirling Council Community Grant Fund
By Stirling and Alloa LETS
Elements of funding being applied for:
Printing & Mailing costs to inform our membership of changes in the way services
will be offered and access to decision-making processes:

February mailing:
Notice of changes in contact arrangements
160 mailing addresses x 19p
1 ream paper
160 small envelopes
20 sheets mailing labels


March mailing:
AGM information, Annual Report, New Directory/newsletter
160 mailing addresses x 57p
4 reams paper
160 large envelopes
20 sheets mailing labels


Printing costs for mailing information

2500 double sided A4 sheets @ 5p/sheet


Costs of running trading events

9th March & 20th April Trade Fair & Auction
26th March Quiz Night
Venue: paid in local currency
Other costs: self-funding from table charges/ticket receipts.

Costs of running management committee

Monthly committee meeting Feb, March, April

10 members x 3 travel (average)
x 3 meetings
Printing & postage for minutes:

Page 116

Section 5: Managing old money

One day Management Committee training February/March

Look in detail at the findings of the Review Report prepared by Stirling Council,
particularly the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats identified in the report.
(a) Identify necessary changes to management procedures
(b) Identify future fund finding strategy

St Marys Hall
Patrick Booker
Venue: local currency
Bring & Share
10x 3
Travel 10 (fee in local currency) 10.00

One day new committee induction training May

Clarify roles, responsibilities and ways of working for the forthcoming year.

St Marys Hall
tba (Rebecca Little is being approached)
Venue: local currency
Bring & Share
10x 3
no charge

Total Grant Application


Page 117

Section 5: Managing old money

Page 118

Section 5: Managing old money

Appendix 12
Below are two examples of LETS cheque design.

Edinburgh Lets Cheque


I happily pay the sum of

Amount in words
Paid to


Paid by


In exchange for


System Inter Trading Code

Cheque stub




Please Credit:





Su Yin
New Moray LETS

Member number

This chequebook is credit card sized to fit into peoples pockets and wallets more
easily. Nine cheques can be printed on one sheet of paper.

Page 119

Section 5: Managing old money

Page 120

Section 6: Growing your System

Section 6:
Growing your system

Page 121

Section 6: Growing your System

Page 122

Section 6: Growing your System

Growing your system

Building your Core Group
As your system grows, so will your work-load and lets income from service charges. In
order to avoid burnout it is essential that the Core Group expand to include more helpers
who can specialise in different aspects of running a successful LETS. Studies from the
business world have shown that the most effective and efficient size of a team is eight.
More leads to duplication and time wasting and less can lead to a skill deficit. Its also
harder to find suitable meeting spaces for larger numbers! Good communication links
between Core Group members is vital. Telephones are essential and e-mail contact is
a big advantage.
Ideally, a LETS Core Group should reflect the diversity of the members it serves. This
also helps the membership to grow across different social groups. A local exchange
needs to be socially inclusive and diverse to succeed. Quite simply, everyone needs
everyone else. The greater the variety of skills and things available locally the more
trading can occur and can be sustained. For the same reason, a wide range of ages,
social groups and abilities is desirable. This builds a strong web of mutual community
A typical fully-fledged LETS Core Group may look like this
1) Creative Karen, full of enthusiasm and vitality; a teenager with a talent for arts
and crafts and fun. Karen designs the LETS event posters and artwork and
creates the ads for the Newsletters. She also keeps the noticeboards attractive
and up to date. Karen empties the LETS Boxes and delivers notes and cheques
to the administrator. She also helps to organise the childrens parties and creches.
2) Caring Carol is reliable and trustworthy. Carol keeps the LETS Accounts on
her home computer and produces reports for publication, statements and
chequebooks. Carol also takes the minutes of meetings, responds to, and
files all correspondence.
3) Publisher Paul produces the quarterly newsletter and leaflets on his computer.
He also comperes events and LETS auctions.
4) Techie Tim is a self-employed computer technician and the Treasurer. Tim
also maintains the LETS computer, web site and e-mail list.
5) Kathy the Co-ordinator is a community development worker and acts as
membership secretary with good links to local groups and organisations. Kathy
oversees the well-being of the team often deputising when someone is on holiday.
6) Linda the Link the link is a retired teacher who manages the Scotbarter Account
and arranges trades between systems. She also distributes information such as
agendas and information from other LETS systems to other Core Group members
7) Practical Peter is the local organic farmer who rents out his barn for events &
organises transport. Peter also manages the distribution of the directories
through a network of neighbourhood members.
8) Willing William is a joiner and musician who makes and fits notice boards,
fetches tables and equipment for trade fairs, barbecues & parties.

Page 123

Section 6: Growing your System

Team building skills

The Core Group members will earn local currency by carrying out administration and
development work on behalf of the system. The Core Group will therefore become the
system catalysts, identifying trading opportunities and spending their LETS with members
in commitment. Because they meet regularly they will also be enabled to trade between
themselves. A diverse Core Group should have all the skills and contacts that each of
them need to help one another.
During the course of working together mutually, the core group will hopefully develop
good friendships. Most LET Systems do not pay LETS for attending meetings this helps
to demonstrate the commitment of the Core Group as well as discouraging too many
meetings! There needs to be a balance struck that recognises that people have home
a home life and that they have time to carry out their tasks, too many meetings cut into
that time. People need to feel valued and Core Group members are no different, when
a Core Group member steps down, a simple bouquet of flowers, a thankyou card or a
vote of thanks will help to convey the appreciation of the membership.
Continuity is very important and you should ensure that your systems and procedures
are kept as simple as possible so that a new person can more easily take over a role
when someone leaves. Its also a good idea to ask every Core Group member to find
an understudy to help them and to learn the ropes so that when they leave they have a
quick and able replacement.
Most systems elect their core group democratically with members standing for a fixed
period of time. In the model constitution (Appendix 1, page 47) half of the core group
stand down at each successive AGM but can stand again for office following the members
approval. It is important that you invite nominees who have the skills and energy that you
require to blend into a successful team. A core group made up of the friendliest and
most popular members may not be the most effective. The last thing you need is a core
group consisting of academics and philosophers. There may be lots of interesting debate
but the necessary tasks which need covered efficiently would suffer.
To encourage good relationships between Core Group members it is also a good idea
to share tasks. This allows every member of the core group to fully appreciate what
each other has to do and it also builds skills capacity in the event of someone leaving
or taking holidays.
Make your meetings and procedures regular and habit forming so that you develop a
rhythm to your operation. Publishing your directories and statements regularly will also
help your members to fall into step with deadlines for newsletter copy and offer and want
changes. Events too should become regular as your system matures so that people
can plan ahead more easily.

Making Meetings Effective

Taking part in any organisation needs to be enjoyable, at least some of the time, otherwise
what is the point of devoting your time to it!
Many people have built up long term friendships as a result of regular involvement in the
running of their local LETS. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence to show that
Page 124

Section 6: Growing your System

LETS groups are often very challenging to run, involving people with a range of skills
and outlooks, and that there is ample scope for disagreement and frustration.
If LETS meetings are to bring results that make the whole LETS effective and enjoyable
to take part in then there are three important issues that need to be tackled: Purpose,
Process, and Progress.

It is important that everyone at the meeting is clear why they are there. It is not unusual
for a group to get into the habit of meeting regularly and gradually lose track of what
needs to be agreed as a group.
Two main problem areas:
1. Discussing stuff at length that does not really need the attention of, or a
decision by, the whole group. This uses up the groups time and can bore
and/or exclude others.
For example a decision to redesign the Directory of offers and wants needs to be
agreed by the group, but everyone doesnt need to sit through hours of discussion of
which typeface to use and the design of every page. If this becomes a regular problem
it may be a reason for creating working groups, who have a clear task on a particular
issue have the time to discuss the detail and then report back with a summary of their
conclusions to the main group.
2. Not bringing issues to the whole group that really requires whole group
participation. If people find that attending the core group meetings does
not really give them decision-making power, because many decisions are
taken outside the meetings then participation will feel very hollow and
they may well become frustrated and disillusioned.
For example information on the balance and spending on cash and local currency
accounts. All members of a voluntary management group are responsible for financial
decisions so they need regular, accurate information to ensure the whole group can
carry out this responsibility.

The usual way of keeping the purpose in focus is to have a written agenda. It may be a
burden on a small local group to circulate an agenda in advance; putting an agenda on
a notice board may be enough. If the people involved are on email that can be a huge
benefit, people can easily flag up issues missed from the proposed agenda. Some
groups conclude their meeting by agreeing the main agenda items for the next meeting,
it is not always possible as other issues do come up but it can be helpful to have
agreement on priority issues.
The agenda should ensure that regular items, such as reviewing the action note (minute)
of the previous meeting and reviewing the spending of resources (cash and local currency)
are always covered.
An agenda also serves to structure the time available for the meeting. Important issues
should be covered early on when people are fresh and enthusiastic instead of being left

Page 125

Section 6: Growing your System

until people feel they need to leave or are already worn out. Many LETS groups hold
their Core Group meetings on a weekday evening when people may be tired after a
long day and have childcare and work commitments the next day. You should always
aim to keep the meeting to an agreed length so people can leave knowing they have
been able to participate in full, instead of having long drawn out meetings that leave only
a few people at the end making decisions.

The way the business of the group is discussed is the responsibility of all the group
members. The Chair and the person taking a note of the decisions have special roles,
but they cannot do their job effectively without the backing of the whole group.
The role of the Chair of the meeting is to ensure that:
The agenda covers all the important issues that need to be discussed.
Each item is given appropriate consideration and that each member of the
group gets a chance to express a view, particularly on controversial issues.
A decision is reached on each item, and if necessary a summary is made of
what the decision is, so it is clear to all present including the person taking the
note of the meeting.
The meeting keeps moving through the business and an appropriate pace,
not getting bogged down in unnecessary detail or wandering off the point. It is
inevitable this will happen in most meetings and group members just need to
be gently steered back on course.
The person taking a note of the meeting should record:

The date, time and venue of the meeting.

Who was there and who gave apologies for not being there.
The decision(s) taken on each of the issues discussed.
The date, time and venue of the next meeting and any key agenda items that
need to be discussed.

It is more important that the note of the meeting is sent to all group members promptly
after the meeting so everyone is clear what they have agreed to do and when they have
agreed to do it. A neat handwritten note of key decisions photocopied and sent out
within a few days can be of much more practical use than a much longer summary of
who said what on each issue lovingly typed up but not available until just before the next
meeting. Keep it short and prompt!
The process of the meeting should make it comfortable for everyone to participate.
They may not all want equal airtime but it is important that group members do not feel
excluded because they cant get a word in, or because no one seems to be listening.
As a group member you should:
Prepare for the meeting. Carry out any actions you have agreed to do at
previous meetings. Read your notes of the meeting and any paperwork you
have been given about issues to be discussed.
Listen to the points being made by others, and give them the opportunity to
express them.
Page 126

Section 6: Growing your System

Be prepared to change your mind! If everyone has made up their mind before
they even hear other peoples views it will be very hard to make any progress.
Keep contributions short and focused on the issue being discussed if you
need to give people a lot of background information about your view of an
issue write it down and get it circulated so people can read it before the
meeting and ask you questions about it.

People dont want to feel they are wasting their time in meetings. If people experience
several meetings where nothing is decided and no action is suggested they start to
think about the childs homework they should be helping with, the food they could have
cooked for tomorrows visitor or the trading they are missing out on! Then they think,
maybe Ill miss the next meeting.

Problem areas
Indecision some groups get bogged down and put off making important decisions.
This may be because people are unsure what powers and responsibilities they have.
Try getting help from a local training organisation to work with the group to clarify roles
and responsibilities. Volunteer Development Organisations have people trained to offer
capacity building for groups and it really can help to develop team spirit and a sense of
Inaction a group may make decisions but find that the actions that are needed to follow
up the decisions are not happening. This may be because of a temporary problem for
one of the group members, very common in voluntary groups. Other parts of peoples
lives just have to take priority sometimes. It may be because some group members
regularly take on more than they can manage. That is why it is important that people feel
comfortable within the group to say, sorry I cant get that done in time. Could other
people take on more, or does the group need to agree to have less ambitious targets
for a while until more people can be encouraged to take on the work?

Creating a clear sense of progress

Action notes
The note taker needs to be clear what has been agreed, who is doing the work and what
the timescale is for carrying out the work.
The action notes should be reviewed at each meeting and people should be given
recognition for getting the tasks done. This helps to give a clear sense of what has
already been achieved and highlights the tasks still to be completed. Any problems or
requests for help can then be dealt with.
New targets and new tasks can then be identified for forthcoming work.

Planning ahead
Plan over a year rather than from month to month. Map out when your trading and social
events will take place, when your newsletters/directory will come out and when you will
need to take in membership fees.

Page 127

Section 6: Growing your System

Be realistic about what the group can achieve, dont feel everything should always be
bigger and busier every year. Carrying out SWOT exercise to look at the organisations
strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats that may affect your
development can be helpful as part of this planning process. Use this planning process
to help make a case for funding from local small grants schemes, being clear what you
plan to do, who you aim to benefit and how additional money would help are the main
elements of most grant application processes.

Reward achievement
Remember to praise people, including yourself for what is achieved. In a voluntary
organisation genuine praise is probably the most valuable currency there is.



Lively informed discussion

Active participation
Clear conclusion


Action note promptly circulated

Making Meetings Fun

Peoples homes may be fine for core group meetings, they avoid the need to pay cash
for the hire of public venues, the atmosphere can be relaxed and there is easy access
to a kettle. The down side of meeting in peoples homes can be that it is a lot of extra
work if the same person is hosting all the time, particularly if they think they have to tidy
up beforehand. Also for new members it can feel intimidating going to someones home.
A compromise is to alternate meetings in peoples homes with meetings in public venues,
balancing comfort with accessibility for new members.
For larger events it is worth considering public transport access, physical access into
the building and also the acoustics of the venue for the kind of event being run. Your
local council should produce a list of venues that they run, identifying room sizes, whether
kitchen facilities are available and how much per hour they charge for hire. You can
make a case for small grant funding by highlighting the social inclusion value of holding
events in publicly accessible venues.

For core group meetings get people to take turns in bringing along a contribution of fruit,
biscuits or other tasty snacks. It can be a good opportunity for people to highlight baking
skills and home produce that they may be selling at future LETS events! Having a break
for tea gives people a chance to relax a little and to chat to people about issues that are
not on the official agenda.

Page 128

Section 6: Growing your System

Meeting plus activity

Where group members have to travel long distances to get to a meeting it can be
valuable to combine a business meeting with another event. Several LETS groups have
a trading event with an hour set aside for the core group to meet. This can encourage
people who are not currently part of the core group to sit in and learn more about how
the group works. On the downside it can be harder to get time to concentrate, and
accountability can become blurred if people regularly get involved without being part of
the core group. Childcare may be an issue and it may be necessary to organise someone
to undertake activities with kids while the meeting is on and also to have separate
rooms for the meeting and the childrens activities.

Encouraging participation
Meetings dont have to be just talk and paperwork. Many people go down this route
because it is what they are used to, but dont feel your LETS group has to conform.
Video clips showing the work of other groups or organisations, displays of photographs
of local work, posters colourfully setting out the work of local projects, and even the use
of role play can help get ideas across.
For more ideas see the Community Planning Handbook, Colin Wates, 2000

Growing your Membership

Many Lets systems start with just a handful of committed members and grow to their
maximum manageable size. So what is the ideal size of a Lets system? Too few members
and you may not have all of the goods and services the members need to trade and
share. Too large and it may become too bureaucratic and impersonal. The ideal seems
to be around 150. Diversity of services offered and proximity of other traders are also
crucial factors; the closer people live to each other, the easier it is to meet and to trade.
The largest Scottish Lets is New Moray LETS with around 400 active members. It is now
planning to devolve into two smaller groups: East Moray LETS and West Moray LETS.
In time, many neighbourhood groups can form a regional association, inter-trading where
necessary through ScotBarter (a regional trading vehicle) or through reciprocal accounts.
Small is beautiful, big is funded. The smallest Scottish LETS group has just 6 members
who trade happily amongst each other and enjoy many social evenings and co-operative
projects. The amount of cash in local circulation also affects the size of membership and
level of trading. When cash is tight, trading in LETS can become more essential for survival.

There are four distinct stages in growing a successful LETS system.

Germination; up to 50 active trading members
Growth; 50 150 active trading members
Maturity; 150 300 active trading members
Division; 300 + active trading members
It is important to remember that non-trading members may look good in your statistics
but they can be a heavy drain on the system resources. It is better to have fewer
members who actively use the system than many who dont.

Page 129

Section 6: Growing your System

A lets system needs a lot of care and attention in its early stage. Your initial goal is to
attract around 50 people to join as quickly as possible. Once your system is established,
your objective is to maximise trading between its members and to grow the membership
so that more and more of their local needs can be met. If you have seeded your system
amongst a diverse group of people with a wide range of skills and needs, your system
is more likely to grow in a balanced way. Of course it is possible to create an exchange
system for say alternative therapists, but the level of trading will be limited.
Use every promotion opportunity to spread the word. Noticeboards, supermarkets cards,
posters around town, media releases are all good ways to do this. Your Directory and
Newsletter is your shop window so make sure they are attractive and easily understood.
Write short stories in the directory to encourage, enthuse and inspire others. How trading
in LETS has helped me make new friends. At last my washing machine is fixed.
LETS has given me a new lease on life. I traded my unwanted goods and earned
credits to pay for a childminder, now I can afford to work part-time
The best way to grow your membership is through the founding members themselves.
Concentrate your limited resources on making the system work for the existing members
and they are more likely to invite their own friends aboard. If the initial group can invite
their friends and trading partners to join, you will be inheriting established relationships
that will allow more trust and goodwill to be generated. Getting to know each other is
part of what LETS is all about so you will find this much harder if you attract lots of
strangers. Systems which grow organically through established networks of friends
and neighbours will be much more stable and successful in the long term. This is much
more cost effective than spending lots of time on external advertising and publicity.
Approach the traders whom you need to be locally sustainable. If you use a bicycle,
approach a bicycle repairer. If you drive a car, invite a mechanic. It is impossible to think
about everyones needs so think of your own initially and invite the people who you
need and who may need the help of the other members. One simple way is to approach
a potential trader and express interest in their goods or service. For example if you
were trying to attract a local vegetable producer. You could ask them if they would
provide you with vegetables in exchange for goods and services to the same value.
Then show them what is available in the directory and ask if there is anything there that
they could use. If they are interested you can then explain how the system works and
invite them to join.
Use every opportunity to exchange LETS credits with the founding group. This can be
challenging in itself, as they are more likely to be friends who have helped each other
without LETS. Explain that although direct barter is good for the participants, it excludes
other people. By trading LETS you are not only doing a friend a favour, you are also
committing them to do a favour for someone else. The LETS will change hands and help
everyone else along the way. They will also be increasing their turnover, which shows
how much work they are doing for their local community.
Set a realistic service charge so that you can pay the core group for the tasks they have
to do to run the system. In this way they will earn lets which they must then spend with
other members. Use the lets budget calculator on the CD-Rom to help you with this.

Page 130

Section 6: Growing your System

Spend as many lets as you can afford from your system accounts and encourage the
Core Group to trade in maximum commitment too. This will have the effect of pushing
the other members into credit and be more likely to spend these credits with others.
You can rebalance your accounts as your system grows.
Invite the founding members to brainstorm possible new members at every opportunity.
Does anyone know a plasterer, or someone who could walk my dog? Agree who will
contact them and make sure that they have an application pack and spare directory to
help explain the system. Some systems pay a new members bonus to existing members
who help their friends to join and complete their application form.
Encourage your members in credit to advertise their wants. This will alert the other
members to potential opportunities. Those in debit should be encouraged to place
more Offers.
Give new members an extra members pack to pass on to their own best friend or
Organise trading and social events to make it easy for your members to trade, have fun
and get to know each other. Invite the members to take along their own friends, neighbours
and relatives.
Keep a watchful eye on new members and try to ensure that they trade as quickly as
possible. This may mean that someone in the Core Group pro-actively contacts them to
use their services.
Help new members to word their offers and wants if necessary. Ill make your garden
blooming lovely is much more appealing than just Gardening Services. Encourage
them to publish a price in LETS or part LETS.

Growth 50 150 members

If your system has grown in excess of 50 members, give yourselves a big pat on the
back. Many systems fold before they ever reach this stage. Look at your total system
turnover and remind yourselves of your achievements. You have created this out of
virtually nothing and all those LETS credits will continue to recycle helping others along
the way; a truly sustainable local economy.
At this stage it is important to keep the momentum going. Try and plan your directories
and events to a regular timetable. In this way many of the tasks will become habit forming.
Try and make the tasks simpler and more efficient. The less time you have to spend on
the management of the system, the more time you will have to spend your hard earned
LETS. For this reason it may now be wise to invest in good LETS software to make the
management of the LETS accounts more efficient and less expensive.
Encourage your existing members to renew their offers and wants on a regular basis,
and at least once a year. This will keep your Directories interesting and up-to-date.
Consider creating new system accounts. LETS Events could be developed to be a
self-financing account; a Core Group member could manage this with LETS income
from admissions and table fees being spent on events organisers and musicians etc.
Page 131

Section 6: Growing your System

The service charge will barely cover the administration tasks of keeping the LETS accounts
and producing bigger newsletters. You could supplement this by selling box ads in the
directory and approaching local businesses and organisations to sponsor issues or to
advertise in return for cash, which your system will need to meet the additional running
costs. Some systems also charge a transaction charge based on the volume of
transactions processed. Be creative and involve the members in finding solutions for
the difficulties, which may arise.
Expand your core group and devolve the tasks as your system grows. You dont want
Core Group members to be overburdened by the increasing volume of administration
work. You also want to ensure that skills are passed on before Core Group members
stand down.
You now have sufficient members to ensure a decent turnout at events and trade fairs.
Put more energy into these to keep the trading levels high and charge for admissions
and table fees. The more your system earns, the more can be spent on growth and
Keep a watchful eye on those members with excess credits or debits. It is important that
they receive help to rebalance their accounts. New Moray LETS has found that only one
person in 300 tried to abuse the system. The bad apple syndrome can quickly spread
if unchecked. Some systems have introduced an exchange limit beyond which members
cannot trade.

Maturity 150 300 active members

Only a handful of Scottish systems have achieved this level of membership so far; but
that was before this development kit was published!
It is important to remove inactive members offers and wants so that making useless
calls doesnt discourage your trading members.
Ensure that members rebalance their accounts before attempting to leave the system.
Otherwise that energy will be lost forever. Your lets accounts should always sum to
zero. (For every debit there should be a corresponding credit). It may be necessary for
your admin. account to pay off the debits left behind by defaulters.
Remove inactive traders details from your directories but dont delete their transactions
from your LETS accounts. Every transaction is half of a pair (a credit and a debit). Removing
their transactions will also destroy their trading partners account history.
Your LETS income should now be covering your ongoing LETS costs and may even be
producing excess with which you can balance the debits incurred in your early stages.
As your income grows, expand the Core Group and share the tasks fairly. This is a good
time to review the overall diversity of the goods and services available to your members.
Consider establishing hit squads for key services such as gardening, home maintenance,
and decorating. Hit squads are groups of people who get together to provide a cooperative service in a specific area. For example a landscaping hit squad may consist
of someone who can build walls and lay slabs, a lawn and tree expert and a plant
grower who can provide home grown stock as well as several labourers.
Page 132

Section 6: Growing your System

The chart below provides a good template for monitoring your own skills range. If a
basic need is not covered, try and attract new members who will help to rebalance your
range of offers and wants. This chart is also a useful guide to the qualities and skills you
may require for a whole Core Group of eight people.
A lot of members provide a wonderful opportunity for your members to get new projects
established. Your directories will have a captive audience and local businesses are
more likely to wish to participate. You can easily see from a members trading history if
they are able and willing to take on greater responsibility.
Funders too are more likely to take you more seriously if you have developed a strong
system. Now may be the time to consider establishing a LETS organic box scheme, a
community shop or LETS cafe and getting those funding applications completed.



Health & Care





Advice & Support


Arts & Crafts



Things for Recycle,

Sale or Hire




Trades & Transport

Land & Accomodation

Division; 300 + active trading members

There is a human scale to a healthy and effective community and bigger isnt always
better. Relationships can become weak if your system grows too big and the need for
additional bureaucracy, controls and regulations may arise.
Local trading is much easier when people live near to one another. Core Group members
are likely to feel much more accountable to the people they meet in the street than with
people 50 miles away. When you feel that your system is getting too big, consider
dividing your system into two smaller ones, which can more effectively serve their
respective local groups.
Another scenario is for a system to operate from a central accounts registry and produce
editionised directories relevant to each local area. This is how many local newspapers
Page 133

Section 6: Growing your System

To achieve this it will be necessary for your Core Group to work in partnership and
support the new Core Group until they are confident of going it alone. If your systems
have similar protocols and procedures you will be able to cover each others work or
buy in help from a neighbouring system.
SAM system software (see Appendix 5, page91 ) has a facility to divide the membership
and produce either editionised offers and wants or to split the accounts base leaving a
single balance to be transacted between the parent and the child using Scotbarter or
any other national or global exchange trading system.
In this way, new regions can form with clusters of LETS groups operating in concert.

Page 134

Section 6: Growing your System

Organising Events
Plan these at a time to suit all ages for example; Saturday mornings.
Plan these regularly so they become habit forming
Combine events with meetings to encourage participation.

Pick a central location e.g. village halls and encourage them to join the system
in order to pay in LETS.
Host events in members homes.

Promote effectively through directories, noticeboards and local press.
Trade Fairs. Pick a theme: home produce in autumn, Christmas crafts in winter,
home & domestic in spring etc.
LETS Auctions. A great idea to raise funds & encourage trading. (Remember
to include a reserve price).
Instead of asking for a LETS cheque for admission, simply keep a log-in
sheet where members sign-in. These can then be processed in the usual
way. Likewise traders can keep transaction sheets rather than receiving credit
slips for smaller amounts.
Donate a percentage of income to an appropriate local charity or good cause.
Open a LETS Events account so that proceeds can be used to pay organisers,
helpers and performers.
Welcome new members and take the time to explain the system and inspire
them. Monitor new members trading activity and pro-actively ensure they
effectively trade especially soon after joining.
If people are philosophically supportive of LETS but cannot trade; accept
donations, or introduce an inactive members category i.e. LETS Sponsors.
Other suggested EVENTS include; LETS Munch, LETS Ramble, LETS Ceilidh,
LETS Quiz, LETS Sing - pay artists & musicians in local currency. Remember
the objective is to bring people together and to encourage members to trade.
Use name badges at events so members can identify each other. Sell T
shirts i.e. Yourtown LETS logo plus individuals service i.e. FREDs sewing
Finally, do not let one person organise an event single handedly or be landed with
setting up on their own. Events should be enjoyable, even for the organisers and it will
be if the burden is shared.

Scotbarter Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Barataria Foundation, a Scottish
charity that aims to:
Find creative solutions to protect our communities from the adverse effects of
global change
Page 135

Section 6: Growing your System

Address issues of social and economic difficulties particularly in rural Scotland

Scotbarter is a Scotland-wide non-profit making and interest-free barter system.
It has been set up to help strengthen the economy of Scotland by offering an
exchange or barter network
Scotbarter recognises that often businesses and community groups have goods,
services, expertise, skills and information, but a shortage of cash. At times, organisations
dont have the resources, skills or time to market their products. By using Scotbarter,
firms and organisations can maximise the cash they have by purchasing goods and
services on offer using Scotias. It extends networks and provides additional markets.
So essentially Scotbarter aims to recruit small to medium sized businesses and
organisations and encourages them to offer goods and services for part cash part Scotias.
If your LET System is a member of Scotbarter you can intertrade with LETS people from
other systems near and far. You can take the family off on holiday and pay B&B with your
local LETS currency. You can trade your goods and services with people all over Scotland,
making new friends, along the way. This means you can now access and pay for goods
and services offered by other LET Systems, businesses and organisations across
Inter-trading is best explained through example. Stewart visited people in North Fife
LETS in the Kingdom of Fife. Patrick and June collected Stewart from the railway station
and gave him a lovely dinner, B&B and great company. Heres how he paid for it...
Stewart wrote a local New Moray LETS cheque for 25L and paid this to his system
link person who is responsible for the inter-trading accounts. This was paid into the
local Scotia reciprocal account. In exchange New Moray LETS paid 25$ to North Fife
LETS through the on-line payment system, In return for receiving these 25 Scotias,
North Fife LETS Admin. then paid 25 LETS into Patrick and Junes local LETS account.
Stewart has paid for his holiday using his local currency, which he will earn back by
doing more favours for his local community. New Moray LETS has gained these 25
LETS but has paid out 25$ from its Scotbarter account in return. North Fife LETS Admin.
now has 25$ to pay for their photocopying. Patrick & June have 25 North Fife LETS to
spend with local LETS friends, restoring their house. A chain reaction of goodwill is
created across Scotland. Everyone wins. Nobody loses. Stewart has made new friends
who now wish to visit him in Forres. They will need accommodation and lots of other
things on offer from local LETS friends.
There is no danger of your local LETS draining out. When your system meets your
exchange limit of plus or minus 500 Scotias you will find a way for members of your
group to spend them or earn them back so that your system can keep trading. We all
help each other. If one system is over spending or over earning, we rally round to help.
All of us have skills and abilities that local groups could help each other with. Access to
a wider range of skills and services may also give LET Systems the resources to grow
and attract new members. What goes around comes around and inter-trading between
systems is good for those who need it. Think about it, you can earn LETS doing good
work in your local community and exchange these for holidays and have a lot of fun in
the process!

Page 136

Section 6: Growing your System

When a LET System joins Scotbarter an account is opened in the name of the System,
a chequebook and a Website pass word are issued. A person with an email number is
elected Scotbarter link person and given responsibility for scrutinising LET System
members who wish to intertrade.
If a member wishes to stay B&B in another part of Scotland both parties check with their
Scotbarter link person by phone before they trade. The payee sends a Local System
cheque to his/her Scotbarter link person who writes a cheque to the recipients own
LETS System for the same amount in Scotias. The recipient then receives a credit in
LETS currency from his/her Scotbarter link person, from the Scotbarter shadow account.
Normally it is expected that transactions are carried out in trust, the way most LETS
transactions take place. The people involved should not need to send and receive
cheques before the transaction takes place. Local LETS cheques can be dropped off in
the usual place and the Scotbarter transaction could be completed through the Scotbarter
Website, without a need to write and post. Link people can use their own discretion as
to whether follow up calls need to be made (if a large trade is taking place for example)
and they will have details of trading balances to refer to in order to check credit limits, so
that people are not trading out with agreed limits.
If your system is a member of Scotbarter you can earn local credits with one system and
spend them with another. Someone in your admin. team needs to be entrusted with
monitoring the quarterly statement and alerting their members on the balance and the
availability of things on offer; The Local Scotbarter Link. The link person compares the
Scotbarter national statement with the local shadow account. Providing all transactions
have been accounted for these should match and sum to zero i.e. for every local credit
there should be a national debit to the same value.
Scotbarter is cash free to join and costs 25$. An annual directory and regular updates on
the Website are produced for you to advertise members offers and wants where
appropriate. Your Lets Admin. could also earn and spend LETS by helping other systems
or accessing support from others. If you dont have a photocopier, then another system
may. You could share joint trading events.
To find out more about Scotbarter access the Website:

Page 137

Section 6: Growing your System

Page 138

Section 7: Case Studies

Section 7:
Case Studies

Page 139

Section 7: Case Studies

Page 140

Section 7: Case Studies

Case Study: New Moray LETS

New Moray LETS Traders

New Moray LETS was founded in Forres on the Moray Firth in June 1997. It has grown
steadily since then and now serves 400 families who are actively exchanging local
goods and services to the value of around 200,000 per annum. The system has evolved
over its 5 year history to meet the needs of its growing membership, exploring and
developing many new and innovative ideas in the process. The experience of running
a large LET System has shaped the design of a new LETS management software called
SAM. This management tool is now used in six other Scottish LET Systems.

Forres is a typical Scottish village with a population of around 10,000 people. There are
four distinct groups in the area; RAF Kinloss, retired people (many from RAF Kinloss),
local indigenous people and The Findhorn Foundation which attracts people from all
over the world. This mix produces a rich diversity of skills and backgrounds with people
from all walks of life. However, because of their different cultural backgrounds, these
groups have in the past operated very autonomously and there has been little real
integration. This had led to a degree of friction between different sectors of the community.
Forres is a pretty town renowned for its flowerbeds, gardens and temperate climate.
Lying on the outer boundary of what was previously Grampian and Highland Regions, it
has been a long-term unemployment blackspot. A recent article in Scotland on Sunday
revealed that its residents had the highest level of personal debts (second only to
Dunoon); with average debts (excluding mortgages) as high as 26,000 per household.
Average wages are very low, transport costs high and few people have much disposable
income once their national and local taxation, utility bills and interest bearing debts are
met. Cash is scarce and most young people leave their homes at an early age for
employment or further education elsewhere. Like many rural towns, the High Street has
lost many of its shops and businesses in recent years. In order to survive and keep up
appearances many people traditionally rely on barter. Just as wealth divides people,
poverty unites and the town is blessed with a very strong community spirit, a strong
voluntary sector and lots of social group activities.

The Beginning
The founder and designer of New Moray LETS is Stewart Noble. With a background in
the media, business and marketing he was moved to start New Moray LETS in response
Page 141

Section 7: Case Studies

to Black Wednesday, the day in 1988 when interest rates rocketed to 16% as a result
of currency speculation on the stock market. Property prices and business values
plummeted and many businesses were forced into receivership. Stewart was inspired
to look for an alternative and spent several years researching LETS systems worldwide
before starting New Moray LETS.
Two of my clients committed suicide the following day and this really gutted me. I started to question the nature of money and
realised that it was a bad design doomed to failure. As I became fiscally challenged myself, I met many more local people who
were much worse off than me but incredibly generous, willing to share their time and what little possessions they had. I just decided
that there had to be a better way and started exploring alternative lifestyles. This led to me to LETS, which I then researched for
several years before launching this system. I learned mostly why other LETS systems failed and worked to design in mechanisms
to help to avoid and prevent this. Stewart Noble, New Moray LETS Founder

Once Stewart decided to embark on his LETS, he realised that he needed to attract a
wide range of people from across the community. Friends alone could not meet all of
his needs as an unemployed person, so he approached the local Community Centre
Manager, Lorna Creswell and asked for her help. Between them they worked out a
guest list to invite people to a Bring and Share garden party at his house to get the idea
off the ground. There was only space for about 30 people so he tried to invite as wide a
range of friends as possible from the four main communities; these included unemployed
people, business people, single parents, artists, craft workers, musicians, carers,
teachers with a wide range of ages. In hindsight this was a major key to the success of
New Moray LETS (NML).
From the initial party, 22 people joined, completing a membership pack and application
form copied from another LETS group. Those 22 people then persuaded their own
friends to join and within 1 year NML had grown to over 100 members.
NML charge a life time membership of just
10 (5 for unwaged). The system received
no help from potential funders at all, and just
needed cash for photocopying and postage
stamps. The new members fees covered
this initial cost. Stewart agreed to work in
return for a service charge of 12 LETS per
member per year, keeping the LETS
accounts and publishing 4 members
Quarterly periods
directories a year. By the end of the first year
NML had over 100 members. The system also introduced a new member bonus of 5
LETS, to share the workload of canvassing new members and helping them complete
their application form. The system housed a LETS noticeboard in the local community
centre and members posted all of their cheques, offers and wants in there for Stewart to
collect and process on his home PC. The membership grew by word of mouth with no
effort put into advertising or workshops. Stewarts main motivation was to gather a
membership that could best support him and other unemployed people in return for
help in kind.




Active Members

The needs of people in the system guided the targeting of new recruits. The NML Core
Group encouraged members to advertise their wants and used this as a means to
identify and attract the new members the system needed. This included software designers
who were needed to refine the software to meet the growing needs and aspirations,
leading to a powerful LETS development tool which now influences LETS development
across Scotland.
Page 142

Section 7: Case Studies

Once the membership grew to 100 it just kept growing at a steady rate by word of mouth.
Membership fees from new members met system cash costs and Stewart was able to
devolve many of the tasks in managing the system to a growing Core Group chosen
from the most committed members with the highest turnover. Core Group members
actively encouraged inactive members to leave the system after balancing their account
to zero.

Core Group
NML now has a stable Core Group of 8 people sharing the LETS income co-operatively
and working for around 5 LETS/hour. Every Core Group member is elected by the
members at each years AGM and stands for two years. Chas & Fiona are the systems
creative duo who organises social events, gigs and childrens activities. Marie is a
retired psychologist who keeps the noticeboards tidy, empties the LETS boxes each
week and processes the LETS transactions.
Stewart is co-ordinator, responsible for making unpaid meetings happen monthly and
producing the statements and directories and other printed materials. Stewart also sells
advertising and sponsorship to help pay for the photocopying. Each directory costs just
1 each, Jeremy is the IT consultant who gets system e-mails working and is now
helping to further develop NML LETS SAM software and web site. Jamie is NML
treasurer keeping the cash accounts straight. Susan is fund-raiser, actively trying to
raise the cash for NML to buy an A3 digital photocopier. NML over 5 years has received
500 from Rural Environmental Action Project towards a PC and 600 from the Co-op
Community Fund to help pay for two directories. Cash advertising in the directories has
also contributed.

Gordon is the NML handyman who organises a network of LETS distributors to post
the directories all over Moray without the need for postage stamps. Frances is NML
Trade Fair organiser and is responsible for the National Inter-trade account that allows
the LET System to exchange with other LETS across Scotland for the services and
holidays that cant be acquired locally.
Page 143

Section 7: Case Studies

NML does not have an office but instead Core Group members work from their own
homes. Local exchange happens whenever people meet to trade and exchange. The
Core Group sees its role as providing the simplest way to encourage people to do this:
by producing a regular clear directory of offers and wants and keeping the accounts
accurate. Core Group meetings are rotated in each others homes with members events
and trade fairs held in community centres and town halls.

Regular Events
NML has fallen into a seasonal rhythm, producing quarterly trading statements and
Newsletters promoting and organising 4 social and trading events each year. These are
always family friendly and appeal to a wide cross section of members. The system has
been very diligent with the LETS accounts, treating LETS just like cash and producing
accurate account, statements and publishing simple reports in every directory. Directories
are published regularly and on time to help the members get into the rhythm of the
events cycle. NML now fills Forres Town Hall with traders selling everything from local
organic vegetables to hand made goods and recycled bric-a-brac. The system traded
over 8,000 LETS in just two hours at its last Christmas Trade Fair!

Devolved Accounts
As NML grew the Core Group decided to devolve the central system account and
opened a new account for LETS Events. This raises LETS from event activities to pay
for even organisers and helpers. NML also opened a Community Chest Account and
encouraged members to make donations to this to pay for the 10% of people and
projects in the community deserving of more LETS income. (So far, members have
donated over 3,500 LETS to help local good causes). The system needed more LETS
to pay for the extra volume of work created from the growing membership and it introduced
a transaction charge of 1 LET per 10 transactions processed. All of the systems accounts
now balance.

Exchange Limits
NML discovered that as the system grew,
people felt less accountable to others. Some
could earn LETS but couldnt spend them.
Others could spend them but werent able
or willing to earn them back again. The
system introduced an expanding exchange
limit; initially members can earn or spend
up to 250 LETS which increases to 10% of
their turnover (credits + debits) once they
reach a turnover of 2,500 LETS. In this way
people have to earn the trust-based interest free credit they receive and they have an
incentive to both give and take locally. To discourage members from exceeding this
limit they were highlighted in the directory so that others could help them trade back to
balance. They were also charged 10L compulsory donation, which is paid into the
Community Chest to help local good causes.
Page 144






Total LETS Turnover

Section 7: Case Studies

60 members have already exceeded a turnover in excess of 2,500 LETS per year and
the system Core Group are now considering the prospect of allowing larger transactions
involving cars and property as a direct result of the high levels of LETS trading. For
example as the largest LETS trader in the NML system, Stewart Noble has built up a
turnover of 30,000 LETS. Thats 15,000 earned and 15,000 spent with others. At 5L/hr
Stewart has given 3,000 hours to help people in his local community and exchanged
that LETS income for help from local members. Stewart has now earned the trust, because
of his consistently high turnover, to accumulate up to 3,000 LETS allowing spending of
up to 6,000 LETS at once. One day he plans to build a house without the need for a
mortgage and the millstone known as interest. If Stewart can, others can too.
As our system grew it started to feel different after 150 or so members. People werent so closely known to each other and there
was more distrust. It became hard for our Core Group to represent the views of people they didnt meet and to serve communities
they didnt live in. We are now working to split the membership into East and West Moray LETS. We plan to do this by inviting the
top traders in East Moray with the appropriate skills to learn the management tasks and skills from the existing Core Group
members. The LETS income will be split proportionally to the amount of active members in each system. In this way we plan to
replicate and grow into more neighbourhoods. This will have the effect of further localising and empowering more neighbourhoods.
We have also seeded similar LET Systems in Inverness, Keith and Ellon, which together now serve around 200 members. Because
we are friends who use the same software it is easier to support each other and process inter-trading transactions. Stewart Noble
New Moray LETS founder

Balancing Accounts
NML has learned to be rigorous about helping members balance their accounts. They
operate a transparent account reporting system so that all members can see each others
balance and turnovers every three months. When a few were seen to be abusing the
system it discouraged others from trading back to balance. Out of 400 members only
around 12 accounts have needed help from the Core Group in identifying appropriate
trading opportunities. When members leave they are invited to spend or donate surplus
credits to the community chest account, earn back debits from a friend or exchange
cash for LETS with the LETS admin. account. Cash-for-LETS bolsters cash funds but
costs the admin. account LETS; this must be balanced like every other account over the
long-term. Balancing accounts can be as simple as getting together those with excess
credits with those with excess debits and brainstorming ways to help both. When a
member joins we ask them who told them about the system (their LETS buddy). This
has proven to be a good way to trace people who have moved.

Problems and solutions

In the early stages:
Getting enough information about how LETS works.
Get in touch with LETSlink Scotland and other LETS groups to find out how they do it.
It was necessary to invest a lot of unpaid time and energy when the membership was
too small to pay sufficient LETS charges to cover all of the necessary tasks.
Use the credit available in the system accounts to pay for essential work and
rebalance them as the system grows. Also ensure that key traders are attracted so
Page 145

Section 7: Case Studies

that founding members may swap their LETS for goods and services that they
themselves value i.e. food producers, PC fixers, home-helpers. Car sharers. The goods
and services they received from other members became a fair reward for their input.
Couldnt earn enough LETS to pay for the directory production.
Invite members to place display ads in the directories for LETS and/or cash. Later
extended this to offer community e-mail forwarding for 5L per message. This helps
the admin. account to generate extra LETS income.
Couldnt get or afford central office space.
Place LETS community noticeboards and lockable boxes in locations convenient for
members. Encourage members to process all correspondence in this way.

As the system grew to around 150 members:

It was hard to measure fair payments for Core Group work as the workload grew.
All agree to work for 5L/hr. We also agreed a proportional payment system based on
the number of active members (see LETS budget calculator on CD Rom). In this way
you never spent more than you earn and never earn more than was needed. Core
Group also has a vested interest in growing the membership. Any LETS surpluses or
deficits are recycled through the community chest each year for redistribution with the
members agreement.
Keeping the LETS accounts became a nightmare as the volume grew.
Invest in suitable technology software or develop your own. Databases can be
designed to perform a vast range of functions saving time and ensuring the integrity of
the accounts and reports. Reduce the time taken to create directories by creating
automated reports. Learn to backup data.
Need more envelopes.
Recycle older ones. Design the front page of the directory with a box to stick a
mailmerge label on the top corner. Insert the members statement into the centre of
the newsletter and staple shut. Members now sort, post or deliver them by hand or
collect from secure collection points.
Too much workload and skills required for only a few Core Group workers.
Expand the Core Group as resources allow and share the tasks in an efficient way.
Invite members in greatest commitment to help with the tasks.

When the system grew to around 350 members:

It became harder for members to find a local trader.
Editionise the offers and wants and contact information into neighbourhood zones in
the directories. The suggestion to print separate local directories for each
Page 146

Section 7: Case Studies

neighbourhood was overturned by members who felt that they would find it harder to
trade with fewer members. NML now feels that there are significant operational
advantages in creating a regional account registry and producing one large regional
directory containing several autonomous local LETS groups.
Directories and postage become more expensive as you grow.
Organise a LETS distribution network giving LETS income to local networkers. The
additional LETS cost may have to be met by an increase in LETS service charges in
time. NML now spends 1600 per year on photocopying community directories,
which has become impossible to sustain without raising more cash income. The
system has been unable to persuade a printer to join LETS as yet. So now the
system is are attempting to fund raise 3000 to buy an A3 digital laser printer, which
will copy and collate them speedily and automatically. We can then pay LETS
members to do outside work for cash and LETS too, to existing members, community
groups and perhaps other Scottish LETS groups, generating sufficient income to pay
for the printing costs.
We keep running out of cash...
Fundraise. Sell sponsorships and advertising space in the community directories. (1
per page per member per year). Exchange tokens for cash to enable visitors and
non-members to trade. Rattle jars. Get a community shop to trade more local goods,
recycled items, arts and crafts etc. and accept cash payments from non-members.
Reward volunteers with LETS. Be creative.
We could do so much more...
Find a way to get matched funding for the equivalent level of community volunteering
recorded. Part fund local animateurs. NML members have currently donated the
equivalent of over 65,000 hours of mutual help. LETS has shown that a healthy mix of
old money and local currency can encourage the regeneration of communities and
their environments and provide a safety net for the most vulnerable and socially
excluded people. There are also many other social, environmental and economic
benefits that are hard to quantify.
The New Moray LETS Website is a fascinating window into a successful LET System
with information about the Core Group, rules and constitution, offers and wants and details
of LET System meetings and activities.
Development workers and management groups need a mix of cash and LETS income
if they are to be themselves effective and sustainable. LETS is helping thousands of
people across Scotland to balance their lives by working part time for the global economy
and giving time helping others in their local communities.

Page 147

Section 7: Case Studies

Page 148

Section 7: Case Studies

Case Study: Stirling & Alloa LETS

Happy Traders

The striking thing about Stirling and Alloa LETS is that you can see trading in action almost every day of
the year. Many small LETS find that trading focuses around occasional evening and weekends fitted in
around members hectic lives. In Stirling you can walk into St. Marys Hall and start with your lunch or a cup
of coffee in the LETS Cafe, then buy some clothes or a present for a friend in the LETS shop, and finally
finish up by choosing some freshly harvested organic vegetables (grown just across the road) to take
home for your tea.

The LET System draws its membership from across Stirling and Clackmannanshire.
Stirling achieved city status in 2002 but it is actually an urban area of only 60,000 people,
with a further 30,000 spread across almost 800 square miles including parts of the new
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National park. Stirling has a compact and vibrant town
centre dominated by Stirling Castle and a world class university on a campus below
Wallaces Monument on Abbey Craig. Clackmannanshire is Scotlands smallest local
authority area covering 62 square miles, between the Ochil Hills to the North and the
River Forth to the South, and serving 42,000 people. Despite their dramatic natural
settings both Stirling and Clackmannanshire face considerable social challenges. Stirling
now has the second highest levels of social inequality in the UK, and Clackmannanshire
has faced and steady decline in traditional industries of brewing, mining, and textile
manufacture resulting in high unemployment and associated social problems.
Stirling and Alloa LETS has focused on attracting a diverse membership, in terms of
age, interest and current employment. A significant proportion of members are currently
unemployed, have carer responsibilities or face long term disabling health problems.
The success of local LETS trading has been founded on developing peoples confidence
to trade and to share their skills regardless of their current status in the cash economy or
where in the local area they stay.

Stirling and Alloa LETS was established in 1993 by a group of Green Party activists
frustrated at being unable to make political progress due to the first past the post electoral
system. The energies of Mark Ruskell, Lesley and John Rowan, Steven Wray and
others were consciously focused on achieving practical changes rather than being limited
Page 149

Section 7: Case Studies

to discussing future policy options. By creating a dynamic network of local skills and
resources it was hoped that many more people would feel able to make a contribution
to improving the environment, economy and social opportunities in their local community.
As one of the first LETS in Scotland the Stirling and Alloa system spent a lot of time
learning by doing. Putting together a membership leaflet and agreeing the basic trading
rules, working out how to keep accounts and create statements and producing a directory.
In the early months the trading events were frustrating often involved the same handful of
people setting up stall and trying to sell the same stuff as last time to the few other stallholders who had bothered to turn up. It was quite common at this stage for people to
look at a copy of the Directory and say it looks really interesting, Ill join when you have
a few more people involved. This cautiousness on the part of potential members meant
early progress was slow. After a year the system had 30 members, and it took almost
another year to get up to 50 members.
By early 1995 there was an additional focus for trading. Mark Ruskell and some friends
set up a wholefood co-op that attracted the involvement of around 1/2 the LETS
membership. It also offered the first opportunity for people to have supported trading
opportunities, where members could turn up and work a shift for Groats with someone
on hand to tell them what needed doing. With hindsight it was an enormous challenge to
keep going, with no proper storage space or transport and a wide diversity of different
goods delivered in a monthly bulk order from Green City which needed to be bagged
into individual orders and delivered throughout the local area by the next day. Despite
the huge amount of work the wholefood co-op did have three very positive impacts (i) it
attracted a lot of new members to LETS so they could access the co-op (ii) it established
the value of supported trading opportunities, where people who might not be confident
enough to arrange independent trades could make a useful contribution and earn Groats
on a regular basis (iii) it introduced Stirling & Alloa LETS to using the Top of the Town
Enterprises building in the old part of the town. By summer of 1996 Stirling & Alloa LETS
had grown to 100 members.

Lets Make it Better

In May 1996 an innovative project was launched linked to SAL. The LETS Make it Better
Project (LMIB) was established to support and enable people facing mental health
problems to benefit from participating in LETS trading. LMIB was funded by the Tudor
Trust, initially for one year, but later extended to 3 years and had two workers (sharing
one full-time post between them).
People can be referred by local GPs or Community Nurses and are given help and
encouragement to trade. Activities are arranged that give people a chance to make a
saleable product or deliver a service.
The Community Caf developed from the LETS Make it Better project. The caf now
provides work for people with mental health problems and increasingly some with learning
difficulties. In return, therapeutic earnings and LETS earnings are paid, which can then
be spent in the LET System. The caf is now a valuable LETS asset and provides
organisations within the building and further a field with part cash part LETS catering. This
in turn has led to the establishment of a small herb garden and greenhouse that generate
LETS work and LETS produce. Members are encouraged to grow and sell produce
Page 150

Section 7: Case Studies

through the system and to the caf where appropriate. A local credit union has run a
paying in point from the LETS Caf, and the caf is available to cater for Council events
and LETS social events.

To do LMIB justice would require a whole case study in itself (and several have been
published for example Manley C. & Aldridge T., 2000; Kennedy A., 2002). However,
key lessons that were learned by all SAL members as a result of LMIB activity were:
(i) the benefits to all members of LETS becoming an every day activity rather
than something that only took place outside most peoples working week;
(ii) that word of mouth is the best publicity if people have good (or bad) trading
experiences they will tell lots of people about them so it is crucial to get right
the issues that support trading and help people to trade well;
(iii) that the system benefited greatly from the increased social and geographical
diversity that LMIB brought, with membership increasing from 100 to over 300
by summer of 1997;
However, this success also put considerable pressure on the Core Group members of
SAL who were all volunteers and had to fit their SAL commitments in around paid work
and family lives. The range of skills and the amount of time that is needed to be devoted
to SAL tasks and associated community building activity was very high and has proved
to be difficult to sustain.

Having a public focus for LETS Trading

One of the major benefits of the launch of LMIB for SAL was having a focus in a public
building. Until 1996 SAL had trading and social events in various local halls, but the
organisation did not have a public base. Telephone enquiries went to the Co-ordinators
home number and Committee meetings were held in members homes. This reflected
the shoestring funding of the organisation, but it made it hard for new members to get
involved in the running of the system.
St. Marys Hall has been an important catalyst in generating LETS activity over a sevenyear period. The Hall is now managed by a not-for-profit company, Social Enterprise
Stirling Ltd. (SESL) and leased from the Catholic Church with the objective of generating
rent to maintain the building and facilitate its improvement as a community resource.
SESL has historically had a board membership with strong LETS links and consequently
accepts day and evening room rentals in local currency. This in turn has encouraged
other tenants of the Hall; mainly community based organisations, to join LETS.
Page 151

Section 7: Case Studies

SESL uses the Groats (LETS) earned from hires to help with cleaning, painting, minor
repairs and refurbishment and catering. This example has given LETS credibility in the
local community and has helped to sustain the system through some difficult times.

St. Marys Hall

Having a base where people can meet, trade and catch up with news really increases
the amount of trading that goes on. Trade Fairs are held at the hall every 6 weeks, with
stalls and an auction for larger items. Once in the Hall, people remember to pay-in LETS
cheques earned for previous trades and to make arrangements to get new jobs done.
Social events are also really important, as people are reluctant to trade with someone
they dont know. Quiz nights, bingo, Christmas parties for the kids and even a midsummer
nights walk up a local hill, have all helped local members to get acquainted. Ceilidhs
are great for this, especially the kind of dances that mean everyone has to move around
and dance with everyone else but we still need to secure a good Ceilidh band who
will take Groats!

Enthusiasm and Exhaustion

In the past, the system has had some support from project workers, often not specifically
tasked with supporting the LET System. For example LETS trading has been developed
in a local primary school and is being carried over into the new Community School.
Stirling and Alloa LETS also has an enthusiastic young peoples membership group that
recently organised its own trade fair.
The Stirling and Alloa LET System has shown a cycle of up and down over the years
with associated projects coming and going as the funding has come and gone or as
energetic Core Group members have come and gone. An allotment came and went, a
furniture recycling business came and went, decorating hit squads came and went. All
of these left a kernel of new membership that has continued to trade in the LET System
and act as a store of useful knowledge and experience.
SAL, because of past project work involving Council funding, has developed a good
working relationship with staff in the Councils community and economic development
departments. When funding came to an end in early 2002 a Community Development
Officer provided SAL with help in restructuring the organisation by conducting interviews
with members and the LETS Core Group and providing a detailed picture of the systems
strengths and weaknesses. As a result of this analysis the Core Group were able to
implement changes and apply for funding to support the process. For over 5 years now
Page 152

Section 7: Case Studies

Stirling Council have recognised the use of groats raised from service charges to
members as match funding for a range of community grants. An understanding of LETS
and willingness by some Council funded bodies to make use of LETS has been an
important part of SALs continued success.

SAL and Social Inclusion

Inclusion of vulnerable individuals does add to the pressures on those people running
the LET System providing appropriate support to people with a wide range of interests
and styles of dealing with others can be very demanding. Having paid project staff
makes a huge difference to a LETS ability to do this difficult task well. SAL has experience
of facilitating trading with people recovering from mental health problems. Lesley and
John Rowan were LMIB (LETS Make it Better) project co-ordinators for several years.
I have no doubt that a great many of the people who got involved in LETS trading
benefited from their involvement. The positive effect on a someones self-confidence of
making soup that people tell you is delicious, or of selling a plant you grew yourself is
tremendous. For people who had become isolated by their illness, LETS trading
provided a route to gradually feel a part of their community. Knowing you can make a
valued contribution is so important, Lesley Rowan
LMIB and the LETS Community Caf Projects continue to operate with a limited
compliment of part-time staff. SAL and the related projects have attracted visitors from
across Europe but have been denied major funding by statutory service providers
despite their documented success, perhaps because LETS is still not seen as part of
the main stream.
There was no way I would go to the Mental Health drop in Centre. I knew people there, I think perhaps I felt as if,
I became involved, I was accepting the label as a mental health person. Ive never felt that about coming to the
caf at LMIB. Theres an opportunity to gradually get involved in things, in trading, in the bigger system.
Sonia at LMIB

The Core Group

The current Core Group has led the system through a difficult period where significant
funding was lost, along with a part-time development worker and the office in St. Marys
Hall. From a high of over 400, membership has fallen to around 150. The Core Group
revised the constitution, tightened trading rules and enforced membership subscriptions
in order to rebuild the local exchange from a stronger base. The current Core Group felt
that it was important to concentrate on improving the trading conditions for those members
who are active traders and to make certain that the most effect use was made of the
limited cash resources available. The LETS shop, more frequent directories, clearer
Core Group roles, a small Council grant and more efficient transaction recording are
putting the system into an up in the system cycle with turnover increasing and trade
fairs better attended. Recent trading figures support the value of this approach. Although
membership was pared down by nearly 60% trading has only declined by 10% in the
same difficult period. SALs average trading per member each year is still one of the
highest in the UK and is one of the 3 most active systems in Scotland.

Page 153

Section 7: Case Studies

A new interest for the system includes developing a working relationship with Kincardine
LETS a smaller system nearby. Kincardine has contracted out its transaction recording
and record keeping to Stirling and Alloa LETS. This has been made possible by the
adoption of SAM software piloted through New Moray LETS.
SAL has been helping out labour-short Kincardine by offering gardening services in
return for organic produce from the Kincardine Organic Gardening Project.

Problems and Solutions

People unwilling to use their own homes as a LETS base. SAL members found that
conducting lots of LETS business through their homes could become an intrusion,
especially if a proportion of the membership needed a lot of support. Solution - find a
church, community or village hall willing to act as a focus for your group. LETS can make
a previously under used facility buzz with activity.
Not enough cash or Core Group members time to run the system effectively. SAL went
through phases where hard working organisers had to drop out because of other
commitments or membership funds were not being collected efficiently. Solution - embed
some of the Core Group activities in the job remit of a project worker associated with the
system. This can give several years stability in event organisation and directory
Loss of effective management of the system. SAL experienced a period of six months
under a very ineffective co-ordinator that resulted in many of the normal system
procedures failing. Solution - vote in a new committee and ask for outside help from
your volunteer development service or Community Development Officer to construct a
SALs plan resulted in; a contraction in membership to get back to those committed to
pay membership and trade; training in the use of SAM software to keep records and
produce Directories on schedule; LETS payments for Core Group members to reward
effort and stimulate trade; application for interim Council funding; a program of fundraising

Stirling and Alloa LETS has experienced several cycles of growth, contraction and renewal
and core group members recognise the pattern and do not get unduly upset when there
are periods of less trading activity. What the group are attempting to do is put in place
the action that will smooth out the cycle and ensure a sustainable trading network well
into the future.

Page 154

Section 8: Lets get legal

Section 8:
Lets get legal

Page 155

Section 8: Lets get legal

Page 156

Section 8: Lets get legal

Section 8: LETS get legal

Many people involved in local exchange trading do so because they are disillusioned
by the present monetary system. They may feel that interest levied on loans is
exploitative and that access to funding is controlled by those who already have,
and taxes are diverted to fund weapons and activities that cause environmental
damage. However, we live in a society where we require to pay taxes to help each
other and where money is given to help us in times of unemployment or ill-health.
Laws and regulations govern taxes and benefits and LETSystems operate in a society
where organisations and individuals are held accountable for their actions.
This section covers the sometimes-grey areas of tax, VAT, benefits, insurance and
data protection.

Income tax
Everyone trading through a LETSystem is responsible for his or her own tax. LETS
members tax returns are not dealt with by the LETS Core Group! However LETS members
will need to know how their cash earnings may be affected by local exchange trading.
Unless your members are assured that there is either little chance of having to pay tax,
or, if there is, a simple way of managing tax liability, they may be put off becoming local
exchange traders. There is no one single statement that can be quoted from Inland
Revenue sources that will adequately explain a persons liability for tax. There isnt one
for cash earning, so why would there be for LETS?
Officially the Inland Revenue treats LETS earnings as though they are cash earnings.
They do insist on payment of tax in s even if you havent earned any s through
your trading. That sounds like bad news, but only if you are actually liable to pay the tax
in the first place.

The profit thing

Whether a particular trade transaction is liable for tax depends on whether you make a
profit and what the Inland Revenue believe to be your trade or profession.
For example if you sell a bicycle for local currency, whether you are liable for tax on that
transaction depends firstly on whether you are actually making any profit through the
sale and secondly, whether you have sold a lot of bicycles for profit this year.
If you buy a bike for 200, ride it around for a year and then sell it for 50 LETS you are not
making a profit and you are not liable for tax. However if you buy a bike for 10 LETS,
repair it (without having to spend a lot of cash on new parts), then sell it for 200 LETS you
are making a profit. This on its own would still not make you liable for tax if you only
made such a profit infrequently.

The frequency thing

Whether you have to pay tax on the profit made on trading depends on the frequency of
similar transactions. If you have regular work in repairing and selling bicycles for LETS,
the Inland Revenue may view your work as that of a bicycle seller and profits made
through your regular trade or profession are liable for tax.
Page 157

Section 8: Lets get legal

The motivation thing

A further thread in deciding whether transactions are liable for tax is your motivation in
carrying out the trade. Even if some of your bicycle sales did not make you a profit, if
your motivation in selling bicycles was seeking to make a profit it would bring your
entire bicycle LETS trading into trading action. If your primary motivation in repairing
bicycles is not to make a profit but to make repaired bicycles available for local currency
on a not-for-profit basis then your motivation is taken to be social favour trading. For
example if you are just charging people for the amount of time it has taken you to make
repairs you could make a case that your bicycle transactions were social favours; even
if occasionally you did make a small profit on a sale! In this case you would not be liable
for tax.
On the basis of these rules all LETS earning associated with your normal trade or
profession should be included in your sterling accounts for your tax return.
A further example: if your main source of income in the cash economy is teaching and
you carry out a series of exam practice classes and get paid in local currency for this
work, then you should declare this in full on your tax form. If you make video recordings
for someone however, and do not make excessive numbers of them in any tax year
then you do not have to declare them at all.
In a positive sense, the tax position encourages people to trade in a variety of ways
rather than repeat their day job activities. Most people prefer that anyway!

LETS can be an allowable business expense!

There is, however, a further twist with regard to LETS and tax. Spending in local currency
that is part of your normal trade or profession can be an allowable business expense if it
satisfies the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 (ICTA 1988); conditions set out in
section 74.
That means, for example, that if you have paid for tools of your trade in LETS you
may claim tax relief on this expense, in s. In other words the tax system can work to
your benefit.

Paying employees in local currency

There are slight differences in the way that income is treated under different schedules of
If a business pays its employees partly in local currency the Inland Revenue may view
this as taxable earnings as if the payment were in cash.

Providing accommodation
Income from the provision of accommodation could be deemed taxable under Schedule
A. This would depend on the type of accommodation being offered. If someone is
letting furnished holiday accommodation for LETS it would be taxed under Schedule A in
the same way as a cash payment. If someone was providing occasional bed and
breakfast it could be viewed as income under Schedule D, but if this is on a not-for-profit
social favours basis it seems unlikely that the Inland Revenue would be interested in
pursuing a liability for tax.
Page 158

Section 8: Lets get legal

Value Added Tax (VAT)

You are only liable for VAT on LETS if you are trading as a business and would normally
pay VAT if you were carrying out the same transaction in cash. VAT registration is
mandatory where the turnover of a taxable business is more than 55,000 for any twelvemonth period (Inland Revenue, 2002). So, if you are VAT registered, local exchange
trading neednt be a problem; you should simply make sure you charge part cash and
part local currency and that the cash part is enough to cover your cash VAT liability.
Effectively that means that goods or services traded for LETS would have at least a
17.5% cash charge accompanying them in order to cover the VAT payment.

Valuing LETS for tax purposes

There has been some debate about how the Inland Revenue value local currencies. In
practice where LETS units are defined as equal, or roughly equal, to the pound the
Inland Revenue tend to assume that the local currency price paid is a fair market value,
unless it can be proved otherwise.
In fact LETS values are affected by a great deal of competing factors and will be affected
by the conditions within the LETSystem at the time of the sale. Some systems will be
adamant that their currency in no way mirrors the national currency. Others refer their
values to an average hourly rate when judging the value of goods and services.
At time of press, Timebanks enjoy a government dispensation allowing Timebank traders
to have Hour earnings for services discounted from tax or benefits assessments (profit
from sale of goods could still be taxed). The LETSlink Scotland website will carry up to
date information on tax and benefits issues.

Page 159

Section 8: Lets get legal

LETS and welfare benefits

The way in which local exchange may impact on peoples entitlement to welfare benefits
is one of the most frequently asked questions. It is also one of the hardest for which to
provide a comprehensive answer that meets all LETS traders needs. This is because
the official position and peoples practical experience of officialdom in relation to
welfare benefits are usually very different.
The Scottish experience over a nine year period is that there has been no reported
instance of anyone in Scotland encountering any problem related to LETS trading which
has resulted in loss or reduction of their welfare benefits.
There are some case examples from England where LETS traders have had their benefit
entitlement reviewed. Of these cases several have been demonstrated to be based on
a misapplication of existing welfare benefits regulations and in these cases the LETS
members right to keep trading and retain their benefit entitlement has been upheld at a
benefits tribunal. There have however been some cases where people have not pursued
their right of appeal and have dropped out of LETS trading in order to avoid the threat of
withdrawal of benefit.

Fear of the unknown

The problem for LETS in relation to welfare benefits is NOT that there have been any
cases of LETS traders in Scotland having their benefits stopped or reduced. The problem
is that under current interpretations of benefits legislation there is enough uncertainty to
make the position a potential source of concern for both claimants and those advising
them. If you are a person claiming benefits and they are your only source of income, the
level of perceived risk and the anxiety this may cause can be high. LETSystems cannot
say there will never be any problem with regard to LETS and benefits, but that there
have not been any problems in Scotland to date.

Advising LETS members who are receiving welfare benefits

Its hard to give comprehensive advice as the letter and the spirit of the legislation can
be out of step. Two example issues are that:
Benefit claimants in more affluent geographical areas appear less likely to be called in
to explain their volunteering and similar activities than those in low-income areas. This
can promote distrust of government officials, as the legislation is supposed to be applied
consistently across geographical areas.
Benefit claimants are told that they should declare when they are volunteering/engaging
in LETS and so on, but honesty of disclosure can be treated by Benefits Agency officials
with an assumption that anything declared is just the tip of the iceberg. This can result in
much greater scrutiny of their claim, creating a feeling that honesty is discouraged and
that claimants get left in peace if they are streetwise and learn the correct answers to
the questions put to them in order to have a quiet life.
LETSystem Co-ordinators are in a difficult position. If you give the current Benefits Agency
advice you risk frightening LETS members, who would otherwise be likely to be left in
peace to trade and make a constructive contribution to their community. If you apply
what has been learned from the experience of LETS traders in their encounters with the
Page 160

Section 8: Lets get legal

Benefits Agency you risk accusations of encouraging some kind of deception. Traders
experience suggests that most Benefits Agency officials treat local exchange as a social
favours club and many have seen the positive side of LETS, leading individuals back
into paid employment.
In the meantime the Benefits Agency are likely to continue to view LETS inconsistently
and this makes it hard to give clear advice to individual LETSystem members. A big
part of this difficulty is not particularly a LETS issue, it is a wider issue about what activities
including volunteering, self-improvement through study, and community involvement
are deemed to be legitimate whilst claiming a range of welfare benefits.
Time Banks which operate a time based form of community barter have secured a clear
statement from the Benefits Agency that benefit entitlement will not be affected by
participation in time trading services. The difference between time based trading of
services is so close to trading in other forms of local currency that Benefits Agency
Officers must surely be even more confused than they were previously!
LETS based organisations in the UK have been tackling the uncertainties over the effect
on benefits and have sought changes in the way LETS is interpreted for benefits purposes.
This reinterpretation of the benefits legislation has not yet been agreed. The LETSlink
Scotland website will be kept updated with the latest news.
While the LETS and welfare benefits position remains unclear the following guidance is
Where local LETS have encouraged a dialogue with the local Benefits Agency office,
for example in Stirling and Forres, there have been no problems with people receiving
welfare benefits participating in LETS. It may, therefore, be helpful for a core group
member from each local system to develop a dialogue with their local Benefits Agency
office. By providing information about LETS and how LETS trading can be a very positive
experience for people including those who are currently claiming benefits, it is hoped
that the risk of local problems arising as a result of misunderstandings by local officials
can be reduced. You should highlight the ways in which LETS builds self-confidence,
the opportunity to learn new skills, practice existing skills and, keeps unemployed people
in contact with a broad based community which should increase the likelihood of hearing
about potential work opportunities.
For LETS traders claiming UK Job-Seekers Allowance (JSA) the position can be viewed
as similar to that for volunteers:
They need to continue to look for work as agreed with their Employment Service
They need to be able to be contacted quickly if the chance of a job comes up.
They need to be willing and able to start work or go for an interview within 48
The areas of uncertainty are whether income from LETS trading is interpreted as pay as
those on JSA are only supposed to receive out-of-pocket expenses, and whether
they should formally notify the Jobcentre that they wish to carry out LETS trading.

Page 161

Section 8: Lets get legal

A recent academic study can be used to support the claim that unemployed people
have positive experiences through LETS:
64.5% claimed it helped them cope with being unemployed;
82% said it helped them to develop a network of people upon whom they
could call for help;
68% that it helped them develop a wider network of friends.
(Williams et al, 2000)

Income support
A strict application of present rules means that a single person on income support can
earn the LETS equivalent of 260 per year. Previous advice had been to trade within
existing cash disregards: 5 per week for a single person. This was restrictive, and
meant that unless income support claimants had a very small and very regular LETS
income they would not even be able to trade easily within this disregard amount. More
recently it has been agreed that LETS traders can treat this disregard amount as an
annual total rather than being restricted to 5 per week. So, within a one-year period,
people on income support may earn a total of 260 LETS equivalent units before the
effect on income support is even considered.

Housing benefit
This appears to be the most restrictive of the benefits and there have been some cases
in England where people have had difficulties with LETS earnings and housing benefit.

Page 162

Section 8: Lets get legal

LETS and insurance

Most community exchange groups are unincorporated voluntary associations in which
the individual core group members could be held personally liable for the debts of the
organisation. For their own protection core group members need public liability insurance.
If your community exchange holds events or has an office or caf that is open to the
public it would be wise to take out public liability insurance. This means that if someone
gets injured and sues the organisation the core group members will not have to pay the
claim out of their own pocket.
The level and cost of insurance for any one organisation will depend on the frequency
and nature of the activities and the number of people involved. When a community
organisation applies for public liability insurance they will automatically have a measure
of employers liability included. The reason for this is, that of the five measures of liability
as an employer, having paid staff isnt actually one of them! In an insurance claim resulting
from an accident the organisers of an event may be deemed to be an employer of the
injured person if they were under the control and direction of the organisation.
In reality lots of small-scale community events are held without insurance being
considered necessary. A party or barbeque at a private house will probably be covered
by your home insurance. Events organised in a community hall may be covered by the
halls insurance or the organisation that runs it. Events organised with other larger
organisations may be covered by their insurance. Outside caterers and DJs will have
their own cover.
Remember that public liability insurance only covers an organisations legal obligation
to any injured party. In other words if a claim is made against an organisation and a case
for compensation as a result of negligence is proved, the injured party may receive
compensation. To obtain insurance cover that pays out on a no-blame basis, separate
cover is required.
If you get a development-funding grant from your local authority or other agency the cost
of public liability insurance could be built in to your funding request. They would regard
this as good practice. Check also whether larger organisations to which you are affiliated
such as a Volunteer Development Service, a conservation body or Social Inclusion
Partnership can provide you with free or subsidised cover.

Liabilities for individual traders

Public Liability Insurance will only cover events run by the local exchange. It would not
cover trading transactions by individual members. Timebanks have taken out insurance
to cover trading - although this insurance has some activities which are not covered, or
require additional information/premium payments for cover to be granted. No LETS in
Scotland has currently taken out this kind of insurance for traders.
You need to make it very clear to local LETS members that you do not have all trading
insurance cover. It is common sense that, if you ask someone to rewire your house or
fix a gas boiler you first check that they are qualified and are aware of their legal
responsibilities and that may include having the appropriate insurance documents. As
always, trading is between two traders and not between the trader and the local exchange.
Page 163

Section 8: Lets get legal

For this reason you should also be cautious about advertising being a broker of trades
as you are taking on a greater responsibility in the eyes of the law by using this term.
(Broker means you actively match a person to a client and this can infer that you endorse
that persons skills and competence.)
Finally, community groups all over the country run safe and successful events with few
mishaps or accidents. Having public liability insurance once a group is established and
running larger events will provide the organising committee with peace of mind. In the
early stages it may be more cost effective to insure individual events or to share the
cost with other related community groups. Advice is available from the insurance providers
and from your local Volunteer Development Service.

Page 164

Section 8: Lets get legal

LETS and data protection

The Data Protection Act 1998 was designed to stop the abuse of peoples personal
records held by government, public bodies and private companies. The Act places
most constraint on records held on computer. Most LETS eventually end up with computer
records. Non-profit organisations do not have the expense of notifying the Data Protection
Agency that they hold members records (for which there is an annual charge) but the Act
does place legal obligations on those who hold records on behalf of others.
Most of the things you need to do in order to comply with the Act should seem common
sense and involves simple respect for a persons privacy:
Ensure that anyone you hold information about knows that you hold it, what you
use it for, and whom you might pass it on to. A short statement in your
membership agreement may be all that you will need.
Get consent for holding peoples information wherever possible, and get explicit
consent, in writing if possible, for any sensitive information you want to
hold. (This is unlikely to apply to local exchanges)
If you start a website ask members permission before posting up their contact
details. A person may be at ease about 100 local directories circulating with
their phone number accessible to friends but might be unhappy for the world
to have access on the net.
Make sure that you offer people the chance to opt out of any direct marketing
that does not relate directly to your local exchange. Who wants to receive
more bumf in their mail?
Design your systems so that you can easily comply with any request by a
member to see the records you hold on them.
Make appropriate security arrangements, both for manual and computer
systems, depending on how sensitive the information is. For example, you
may need to consider whether you need to restrict access to rooms or filing
cabinets, how you keep your computer passwords, and ensure that you back
up regularly so that you dont lose vital information.
Brief other volunteers who may need to access or update records in what they
are allowed to do with peoples information, what they are not allowed to do,
and whom they have to ask if they are unsure.
The Data Protection Act wasnt really aiming at small community groups when it was
devised but compliance with the Act and showing your members that you care about
their privacy will earn their trust.

Page 165

Section 8: Lets get legal

Page 166

Further Appendices

Further Appendices

Page 1

Further Appendices

Page 2

Further Appendices

Appendix 13
Members Guide Sample Leaflet

Page 3

Further Appendices

Page 4

Further Appendices

Appendix 14
Trading Game Sample Leaflet

Page 5

Further Appendices

Page 6

Further Appendices

Appendix 15
Reference Material
LETSlink Scotland hopes that LETS Development Pack will contain most of what you
need to start up and develop a LETSystem, however, you may want more background
information, or, you may want some detail to put forward a funding bid.

Visit to the LETSlink Scotland website. The site is constantly updated with LETSlink
Scotland discussion papers, newsletters, contact details for other LETS and links to
related sites. There are also links to LETS discussion circles where you can leave a
query and have it pondered by LETS traders across the UK.
The New Moray LETS Website. This is a window into the most successful LETSystem in
The Shell Better Britain Campaign has a really useful website with lots of help and advice
for Community groups and Organisations.
SCVO have a brilliant website which provides information about loads of charities and
support organisations across Scotland as well as links to useful sites such as the Scottish
parliament, Social Inclusion partnerships and Media Resource Scotland.
Volunteer Development Scotland has an interesting site with links to other volunteer
agencies as well as a Directory that you can download. VDS is closely involved in the
development of Time Banks which are closely related to LETS and open to collaborative
There may be a Local Voluntary Organisation near you that will give help and advice on
setting up a LETSystem and give you access to the Funder Finder Software for tracking
down sources of funding.
Funder Finder is an organisation specialising in helping voluntary sector organisations
applying for grant aid. A section entitled apply yourselves gives useful advice on how
to approach funding applications. CD ROM available from SCVO or sometimes through
the Local Council, Voluntary Organisation or Library.
Greater Manchester LETS

Page 7

Further Appendices

The International Journal of Community Currency Research. A forum for the dissemination
of knowledge and understanding about the emerging array of community currencies
(including money-based systems such as LETS, time-based systems such as time
dollars, other scrip-based community exchanges, as well as business trade exchanges)
being used throughout the world both at present and in the past.
A Website developed with funding from the European Union.
The Website of Time Banks UK
A comprehensive listing of world LETS, managed by an Australian LETS activist.

There are several publications worth drawing attention to:

Bridges into work?
Williams and Aldridge et al, The Policy Press, 2001
An Evaluation of Local Exchange Trading Schemes. Contains useful statistics and case
studies helpful for putting together funding bids.

Junior LETS Starter pack

Aberdeenshire Council
How to introduce LETS to children.

Shifting the Balance

Scottish Education and Action for Development (SEAD).
People power and participation. A handbook dealing with poverty and sustainable
development issues. Contains guidance on how to run participatory meetings in the

The Big Book of Team Building Games

McGraw Hill Publishing, Newstrom and Scannell, 2000
Full of ideas to help bring groups together and improve working relationships.

Media Relations for Active Communities

The Scottish Active Communities Working Group
Step by step guidance on how to get publicity. Contact SCVO for your own copy, they
are being issued free to community organisations.

The Essential Advice and Information Manual

SCVO, 1996.
How to administer, develop and fund a voluntary sector organisation in Scotland. Now
only available on the SCVO Website.
Page 8

Further Appendices

Appendix 16
Stories for Inspiration:
Give credit to LETS
David Robertson
Successful Credit Unions have something in
common with successful Local Exchange Trading
Systems (LETS) both need;
to support the local economy;
an ethos of equality, inclusion and participation;
to maintain a certain size to be sustainable;
members who are local regular and dependable
a membership prepared to help run it.

Where credit unions tend to diverge from LETS is in the constitution of their membership.
Credit Unions with their requirement for a common bond are often composed of people
from similar backgrounds and incomes. LETS members may not be eligible to join a
credit union unless the common bond is geographical.
LETS by definition must have diversity to be successful. The busy accountant needs the
unemployed landscaper to tackle her garden. The Hospital cleaner needs someone
with a car to get to his brothers house in the next village. Credit Unions, too, benefit from
having members who are salaried providing a significant percentage of deposits.
LETS help to reduce dependency by offering members a chance to give as well as
take. Everyone has a skill talent, surplus time or resources that can be traded and the
pleasure of having someone style your hair for local currency is matched by the
satisfaction of helping out an elderly person. Both transactions build self-esteem,
especially in those who previously felt left out or ignored. Credit Unions build confidence
too by giving people a financial stake in their community and by providing a platform on
which to build financial stability for a family.

With all these similarities can there be any collaboration between credit
unions and LETS?
Stirling and Alloa LETS and the Mercat Cross Credit Union shares a common meeting
and pay-in point and members are encouraged to operate a CU and LETS account.
Credit Unions emphasise the need to save money in order to provide security for families
and as away of accessing affordable credit.
Being a member of a LETSystem allows you to buy childrens clothes, effect house
repairs, purchase home grown vegetables or even access relaxation therapy without
spending money. The money saved can then be invested with the credit union.
Membership of LETS therefore helps overcome a barrier to Credit Union participation;
lack of spare cash.

Page 9

Further Appendices

When the credit union itself has a LETS account, local currency can be used to support
running costs and save the organisation money, retaining for the benefit of members.
For example, mailings or leafleting if previously done for cash can be done for local
currency. Computer services and hall hire may also be available in LETS.
Dual membership can be beneficial in other ways. A social event could be charged in
part cash, part local currency, allowing people previously excluded because of cost to
be included. In Stirling the local currency earned would offset the cost of catering, room
hire, even the entertainment.
Amazingly, in optimally performing LETS systems there have been LETS-to-cash
exchanges. People with money have helped a fellow member by buying their LETS
currency, which they then use to purchase local services. Where could that lead a Credit
But wait! Does this not require confidence in the local economy, openness, honesty and
trust between community members? Well yes,. but what do we aspire to in a Sustainable
Scotland in 2003?

Page 10

Further Appendices

Appendix 17
Are we agreed that everyone should have the opportunity
to take part in LETS?
Roz Bullen
So is your local LETSystem welcoming to people who are physically impaired, or who
have learning difficulties, or to people who have mental health difficulties, or older people?
What follows are some points to consider when making LETSystems accessible to
people who are disabled. Not all LETSystems will have the resources available to
meet all these points, but if LETSystems are to include everyone, then its necessary to
always have a focus on actively improving accessibility. Thinking about access has
benefits for all people within LETSystems in for example, presenting information in a
clearer way, or making buildings easier to get around in if pushing a pushchair etc.
Many peoples needs can be met just through small changes or a bit of prior planning.
Putting thought and effort into providing access sends out the right welcoming message
for people to get involved with LETS and enables them to start trading.
Always ask people what they need in order to enable them to get involved on an
equal level with others, and really listen to what they say.
Directory, leaflets, newsletters and information:
Avoid jargon and present information clearly. This not only makes LETSystems more
welcoming to all people, but also makes LETS particularly more accessible to people
who have learning difficulties, or those for whom English is not their first language, e.g.
ethnic minorities.
Provide info in several formats as necessary. Although many people who have visual
impairments can see to read ordinary print, others may find it easier to read large or
bold print. Some people with a hearing impairment may prefer to receive information on
audiotape. Things that may cause difficulty to a person who is visually impaired include:
print that relies too much on capital letters or fancy lettering
printing words over a background that is coloured or that shows a picture
and printing on shiny paper.
Remember to ask what the person finds easiest.
Some people who have a hearing impairment, learning difficulty or mental health difficulty
may be unable to use the telephone for various reasons. It is necessary to consider
allocating to a person the job of communicating with others in LETS according to the
instructions of members who cannot use the phone. This person could receive
instructions from the person they are representing via email or minicom (textphone), to
make trading quicker or, if these arent an option, send information by post!

Getting people involved

Promoting and building up peoples confidence in using LETS for themselves is
necessary for many people and not just those people who are disabled. A way of doing
Page 11

Further Appendices

this is through making it possible for people to spend their LETS currency on activities
of their choice in a group with others. For example, organising a craft workshop, drumming
lessons, an evening meal, or a group haircut, all through resources bought through the
local LETS system.
Avoid jargon in anything that is printed concerning LETS. Make discussions in committee
or core group meetings and at Annual General Meetings jargon free as well. This will
enable more people to take an active part.
Speak slowly and in sight of a person who has a hearing impairment and let them
choose where it is best for them to sit in order to follow any meeting.

Accessible venues for meetings and events

Pick venues without steps or stairs wherever possible with a paved level area outside
the front door.
Main doors and interior doors need to be wide enough to allow people using wheelchairs
to get through. The recommended minimum width of opening is 75Ocm. Interior doors
can easily be hinged to open the opposite way if necessary, or replaced by a sliding
door. This increases the space available, which is especially important for toilets that
have little space for manoeuvring a wheelchair.
Accessible toilets require enough space for a person using a wheelchair to manoeuvre,
plus enough room for a helper. Enough space for a wheelchair to be positioned on one
side of the toilet will allow for sideways transfer. Grab bars around the side of the toilet
are necessary to help with transfer onto the loo. Lever-type taps at the sink are easier
for some people.
Dont describe a venue as wheelchair accessible if its not, and if youre unsure, ask a
person who uses a wheelchair!
Visual indicators such as strips on stairs (the tread edges) will assist partially sighted
people to get about more independently, as well as tactile cues on handrails.
Call-buttons, minicoms, doorbells and door handles should be within reach for a person
when sitting in a wheelchair. A light-assisted call button may be installed for people who
are hearing impaired. If these arent possible, then make sure someone is around to
lend a hand when the person arrives and when they want to leave.
Floor coverings should be slip-resistant, and carpeting or rugs need to allow for free
movement of wheelchairs.
Obstacles, including those that are overhanging are a problem to people who have
mobility impairments or visual impairments, as are abrupt changes in the level of the
In situations where stairs are unavoidable, these should have secure handrails and slipresistant finishes for those with limited mobility. Stair lifts can be fixed to most stairs,
though not everyone feels confident using these.
If you are going to have a go at making a ramp then it should have a non-slip surface. It
is recommended that it should not be steeper than a 1 in 20 ratio, but the ratio can be
less if the ramp is short, (i.e. 1 in 12 if the ramp is 5 metres or less). However, for those
with walking difficulties steps are often easier than ramps!
Page 12

Further Appendices

Lifts should have controls that are in reach of everyone, and clear markings or raised
symbols on the controls for those who are visually impaired. They should also have an
alarm. If these arent possible, make sure someone is around to operate the lift when
Also consider how accessible the venue is in terms of car parking and public transport.
How far away is the nearest bus stop? Maybe its possible to car share and one mobile
person could drop people off at the door before finding a place to park?
Disability creates barriers that stop people from being able to be involved on an equal
level with others. If LETS is itself accessible then it can be a means of breaking down
barriers elsewhere in the community.

Page 13

Further Appendices

Page 14

Further Appendices

Appendix 18
Stories for Inspiration:
LETS and Housing Associations
Ann Flint
Lets keep it local! your Committee members say, Lets go for sustainable development!
Lets promote local economic activity! But how do you do this while keeping firmly to
performance standards? One way is to work with Local Exchange Trading Schemes
(LETS). LETS bring people together across the community and help overcome social
exclusion and over thirty LETS Systems across Scotland are providing an alternative to
the pound by facilitating trade in local currencies.
How do LETS work? In Forres a community agriculture scheme accepts part LETS, part
cash for a weekly box of nutritious organic fruit and vegetables. Local people can earn
LETS to pay for their food by working on the harvest or ironing or putting up shelves.
The very best, healthy food is now within reach of the single mother and unemployed
family man. Its a win for them and a blow for food poverty.
In Stirling and Partick people with mental health problems are being given the opportunity
to build their self-esteem and practical skills by working in the community caf. The
Kelvins or Groats they earn can then be used to buy anything from informal skills training,
help with schoolwork for the kids or a taxi ride to the ice rink. Trading with others and
working in the caf brings the contact people need to help in their recovery, and their
earnings go on and on circulating around the LETS system providing work and activity
for other local people. Theres no leakage from this local economy!
What could a Housing Association offer a local exchange system? Every Association
will be different but a starting point would be, provision of meeting rooms, photocopying,
Internet access, staff expertise, furniture from flat clearances. The local exchange
community in return might offer environmental maintenance, newsletter design, leaflet
drops and catering for Association meetings.
Housing Associations could earn local currency and operate a community chest,
providing community groups or tenants with help for community capacity building or
environmental artwork using local children. Its not just local associations that can benefit.
Specialist Associations can have underused common lounges in sheltered
accommodation. A community exchange group could provide entertainment, food and
social activity for older tenants. Some of the fitter tenants could even earn local currency
by house minding for working tenants who cant , say, wait in for the washing machine
repair man to arrive.
In areas where there are no community exchange systems, you could be the catalyst for
their formation as part of the Wider Action process. Sponsorship and involvement by a
major community based institution such as the local Housing Association could be an
important contribution to their success.

Page 15

Further Appendices

The main factor in the success of a local exchange system is however, the enthusiasm
and drive of the people involved - and housing associations have that in plenty. A
partnership between LETS and Associations could see a real transformation in the local
economy, towards a truly sustainable future. Through the Scotbarter system, you and
your members could even trade nationally.

Page 16

Further Appendices

Appendix 19
LETS Combat Social Exclusion
Colin C Williams, University of Leicester
Local Exchange and Trading Schemes (LETS) are an
effective vehicle for tackling social exclusion but a lot
remains to be done if these schemes are to benefit a
wider range of people. This is the conclusion of a
comprehensive three-year study funded by the Economic
and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The 303 LETS in the UK have an average of 72 members
and a mean annual level of trade equivalent to 4,668. As
such, some 21,800 people belong to LETS and their annual
turnover is equivalent to 1.4 million.
Just 38% of members are employees and merely 34% lived
in households with a gross income of more than 20,000.
For 25.2% of members, LETS are expressive communities: acts of political protest
and resistance to the mainstream where ideals can be put into practice. Just 2.5% join
explicitly to improve their employability. The remaining 72.3% see them either as a
social vehicle for rebuilding a sense of community (22.9%) or as an economic vehicle
for pursuing alternative means of livelihood (49.4%).
In consequence, although 10.7% use LETS as a seedbed to develop self-employed
business ventures and 5% say that it has helped them gain formal employment, LETS
are mainly used to engage in mutual aid for the purpose of either community building or
providing an alternative source of work. For 64.5% of members who are registered
unemployed, LETS had helped them cope with unemployment, with some 3.1 per cent
of their total income coming from their LETS activity.
Some 75% of respondents (82% of the registered unemployed) also said LETS had
helped them develop a network of people upon whom they could call for help, 55% that
it had helped them develop a wider network of friends (68% of the registered unemployed)
and 30% deeper friendships. LETS thus develop bridges (i.e., bringing people together
who did not before know each other) more than bonds (i.e., bringing people who
already know each other closer together); they develop the strength of weak ties.
Despite their effectiveness at combating social exclusion, only a tiny share of the
population belongs to LETS (1 in 2,700). Five hurdles prevent participation:
LETS currently cover just 15.6% of the UK land area;
Many people have never heard of LETS (e.g., 92.1% of people interviewed in
67% of people interviewed do not feel it is something for them. For many, this
was because they feared having their social benefits curtailed, perceived LETS
as something for people other than them or their illiteracy prevented them
using LETS cheques.
Page 17

Further Appendices

Even if people feel that it is something for them, many do not join or participate
because they do not think that they have anything to contribute that others
might want.
If these four hurdles are overcome, the lack of clarity by government over how
LETS earnings will be treated puts people off, especially the registered
Consequently, there remains a lot of work to be done before this effective vehicle for
tackling social exclusion will benefit a wider range of people.

Page 18

Further Appendices

Appendix 20
Sustainable Development:
Local Agenda 21
David Robertson
The rich countries of the world, such as Scotland, consume far
more of the planets resources than our fair share. The 20% of
the worlds population who live in the rich countries consume
70% of the worlds energy, 75% of its metals and 85% of its
wood and paper.
It is also clear that despite the huge amount of resources we
are consuming and the damage this is doing to the planet,
many people in Scotland do not even have access to such
basic needs as a home, enough fuel to stay healthy, or an adequate diet. Increasingly
the goods we buy come from further and further away. Large companies who have no
interest in the fate of local people, own the businesses with whom we spend our money
with. Skills that have been developed over several generations are no longer valued as
it is cheaper to produce things using machines, or in places where people are paid less
and health and safety rules are disregarded.
Successive UK Chancellors aim for sustainable economic growth. This sounds very
enlightened until it is explained that this means higher and higher rates of consumption
of finite resources, with depleted materials being substituted by the next best commodity.
Despite government statements warning of the irreversible loss of habitats and species,
climate change and pollution caused by Western style economic growth.we continue
to push the fallacy that greater consumption of cars, luxury products and mass air travel
will benefit us all in the end.
How do we create sustainable communities? Maureen Harts
describes sustainable communities in this way:
A view of community as three concentric circles: the economy exists within society, and
both the economy and society exist within the environment.
As the diagram illustrates, the economy exists entirely within society, because all parts
of the human economy require interaction among
people. However, society is much more than just
the economy. Friends and families, music and
art, religion and ethics are important elements of
society, but are not primarily based on
exchanging goods and services.


Society, in turn, exists entirely within the environment.

Our basic requirements air, food and water
come from the environment, as do the energy and
raw materials for housing, transportation and the
products on which we depend.
Page 19

Further Appendices

Finally, the environment surrounds society. At an earlier point in human history, the
environment largely determined the shape of society. Today the opposite is true: human
activity is reshaping the environment at an ever-increasing rate. The parts of the
environment unaffected by human activity are getting smaller all the time. However,
because people need food, water and air to survive, society can never be larger than
the environment.
Sustainability requires managing all households individual, community, national, and
global in ways that ensure that our economy and society can continue to exist without
destroying the natural environment on which we all depend. Sustainable communities
acknowledge that there are limits to the natural, social and built systems upon which we
depend. Key questions asked in a sustainable community include: are we using this
resource faster than it can be renewed and are we enhancing the social and human
capital upon which our community depends?
Sustainability is an issue for all communities, from small rural towns that are losing the
natural environment upon which their jobs depend, to large metropolitan areas where
crime and poverty are decreasing the quality of life. LETS can play a central role in
developing a sustainable community.
LETS can act as a focus for community, building bonds between people,
facilitating friendships and encouraging self-reliance.
LETS can facilitate recycling of materials within the community; clothes,
containers for home produce, aluminium for fund-raising, books, sports
equipment and furniture.
LETS can enable people to buy locally produced food. A reminder that
supermarkets are not the only way.
LETS can give people access to tools and expertise to enable goods to be
repaired and reused rather than thrown away, a reminder that new is not
necessarily better.
LETS can make goods and services which are labour intensive, rather than
resource intensive, accessible to far more people. This allows work to be
carried out which would have been abandoned through lack of cash resources.
LETS can help the community to employ artists and musicians who are often
beyond the reach of ordinary people thus enhancing the quality of life.
LETS gives people an opportunity to take action locally without feeling that
they have to wait for the global economy to embrace sustainable development.
LETS can help to make local economies more self-contained. This means that
currency circulates locally, bringing benefits to local traders and suppliers,
retaining jobs and profits locally, and encouraging skills and expertise to be
retained. By trading using a local currency you dont have to compete directly
with the economies of scale and the dodgy subsidies which large companies
always play to their advantage.
Even taking a small percentage of trading in local currency may give a company the
breathing space it needs to survive. By encouraging local trading, and the use of local
land and natural resources, you are able to keep a much closer eye on the benefits and
problems it brings, and to reduce the negative impacts on other parts of the planet.
It is important to harness the potential of LETS to work in co-operation with other community
initiatives. Across Scotland LETS could be working closely with organisations such as
Page 20

Further Appendices

Credit Unions, Food and Housing Co-ops, Community Cafes, Healthy Living Centres,
Anti-Poverty Networks, Volunteer Bureaux, Youth Networks and Community Education
Projects; some already are. The Local Agenda 21 initiatives, promoted by Scottish
Local Authorities in pursuit of a local approach to sustainable development, are a useful
vehicle for LETS to contribute visibly to the sustainable development process.
LETS can provide an opportunity to share skills, equipment, expertise, ideas and
sympathetic contacts between community groups, for everyones benefit. If other local
groups are using LETS to get the things that they need, they are much more likely to
support the development of LETS into something that can really
make a difference locally, rather than see it as yet more competition
for scarce cash resources.
Find out from your local authority what they are doing on Local Agenda
21 and how local LETS groups can get involved. Most Authorities
have either a Local Agenda 21 Officer or a Planning Officer with
responsibility for Sustainable Development Policy.
Useful Websites:

Page 21

Further Appendices

Page 22

Further Appendices

Appendix 21
Social Inclusion:
Talking to Parliament about Social Inclusion
Lesley Rowan.
LETSlink Scotland was asked to declare its interest in issues relating to Social
Inclusion in order to highlight the role of LETS in the fight against poverty. Below is
a summary of the LETSlink submission.
Development of Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) communities run networks for
bartering goods and services without using cash. There are currently 40 active LETS in
Scotland. LETS have proven very effective in promoting social inclusion.
LETS enable people who are unable to work in the mainstream economy to use their
skills productively and to improve their own circumstances by increasing their access to
goods and services. Because LETS are open to everyone within a geographical area
they increase peoples diversity of social contacts. LETS have a good track record in
building self-esteem and members capacity to participate in community initiatives. This
has in turn led to members undertaking training and study out with LETS, whilst maintaining
supportive contact with the LETS community.
Specialist projects have been developed by some LETS systems to increase
participation by particular disadvantaged groups. Stirling and Alloa LETS have a mental
health project (LETS Make it Better) which includes a successful Community Cafe, there
is also a project promoting LETS in low income neighbourhoods across the town. West
Glasgow LETS have a Community Caf and East Lothian LETS have close links with a
local group working with people who have learning disabilities.
Two key aspects of LETS are:
1. The reciprocal nature of trading. LETS is not simply another mechanism for
volunteering. People earn local currency for the work they contribute and spend this
local currency on goods and services of their choice. This encourages self-reliance
within a supportive community.
2. The importance of a diverse membership. LETS work best when they bring together
people with a range of interests, circumstances and trading needs. It is important to
have people who have little cash but some spare time and others who have enough
cash but little spare time. It also helps to have members of a wide age range, and to
make particular efforts to involve people who may otherwise become marginalised in
the community.
For LETSystems social inclusion is a necessity rather than an option as only diverse
LETS appear to thrive.
Overview of key messages we wish to get across to the Social Inclusion, Housing
and Voluntary Sector Committee

Page 23

Further Appendices

Newly formed LETSystems benefit from linking into established community development
and support networks. The availability of low-rent community venues for meetings and
events increases the accessibility of LETS to new members. Availability of-easy-to access
small grants for printing, promotional materials and equipment increases the profile of
local LETS; it also makes it possible for individuals on a low income to set up a LETS.
Advice on making links with other local organisations and the availability of training
packages (for example desk-top publishing and word processing skills) can also be
very helpful at this stage. These support mechanisms may be through local authorities
or through voluntary sector umbrella organisations. LETS specific advice is available
from LETSlink Scotland through a 3 year lottery funded project Oct 99-Sept 2002.
More established LETS have demonstrated that working with other community
organisations such as credit unions, family centres, adult learning initiatives and local
sustainable development projects is helpful. It increases individuals confidence in the
relevance of LETS for them, and provides support to participate beyond what is available
from volunteer committee members who run LETS.
Some LETSystems have gone down the route of employing development staff to provide
dedicated time, and relevant skills, to work with particular high support needs groups.
This has been demonstrated to be very effective at increasing the participation levels
and the personal development outcomes within these communities. However, it also
brings with it the issues of securing and retaining cash funding for core costs that are
also faced by a range of other voluntary and non-profit organisations. There is a need to
secure consistent, medium term support for community and voluntary sector initiatives.
Too much of the current support, particularly finance, is short-term based on pilot projects
and with little realistic hope of securing mainstream funding at the end of the pilot period.
Core funding is rarely available to voluntary and non-profit organisations. This makes it
difficult to provide consistent support to participants, particularly those with high support
needs. This in turn undermines individuals efforts as they are uncertain as to whether to
risk making a commitment to an organisation whose services are continually under
threat. This uncertainty also undermines consistent professional practice by staff.
This concludes the LETSlink Scotland submission to the Social Inclusion, Housing
and Voluntary Sector Committee.

Page 24

Further Appendices

Appendix 22
Sustainable Development:
Community Composting
The community that composts together stays together. Community composting is not
just an effective way of reducing waste; it can also bring people together with a common
goal. By working together, community composting schemes have achieved tremendous
amounts but composting your own garden waste in your own garden makes an important
contribution to waste reduction in its own right and could improve the fertility of your soil.
Working in the garden helps keep people fit, growing your own food reduces the pollution
caused by transporting food and chatting to your neighbours over the fence can bring
the community together. However you do it composting is for fun and profit.
Community Composting is an exciting and sustainable solution to the problem of what to
do with organic waste. There are several LETSystems operating composting schemes
in other parts of the UK. Unfortunately you cant just set up shop in your back garden and
invite people to give you their waste. Here are 7 things you need to run a successful
Community Composting Scheme:
1. People. The more people that are committed to the project, the more chance it has of
developing well. The most important contacts are probably going to be in your local
authority. Find out which other local groups are active, and what people in the council
know about community composting. Is there someone who will champion your cause?
2. Find Out About Funding. In particular, check out landfill tax rebates; recycling credits
(talk to your local authority); and charitable funds (your local Council for Voluntary Services
may be able to advise). Shell Better Britain Campaign produces Information Sheets that
may help you when applying for funding
3. Quality. If you are going to sell the compost then you will have to ensure quality that,
above all, means always producing a useable product. In turn this might mean better
and regular training of people as well as buying and maintaining equipment (if you were
dealing with woody waste, for example, you would need a shredder). You would need
to ensure supplies of enough of the right quality organic waste and some materials are
no good for composting at all.
4. A Site. You will be looking for a site between 40sqm (about the size of a netball goal
circle) and 5000sqm (about half the size of a football pitch) depending on the capacity of
operations you are planning. The choice of location has an impact on transport costs
and accessibility. Existing schemes are based at allotments, city farms, and schools,
disused quarries and old landfill sites. Composting is a potentially polluting process
and you will need to consider site safety and environmental impact. You may need to
get planning permission; have a chat with your local council about this.
5. A Licence To Operate. The waste management industry is regulated. Licences are
issued to operators to manage waste and to transport it (by the Environment Agency in
England and Wales, by SEPA in Scotland and the Environment and Heritage Service in
Northern Ireland). You may be exempted from registration by, for example, forming a
Page 25

Further Appendices

Composting Club but you should ask for advice from your local authority or the appropriate
agency. The Community Composting Network has succeeded in negotiating with
Government for community groups to be exempted from having to pay a licence fee,
but the Network is still lobbying to improve the system. In the meantime, you still have to
register with your local environment protection agency office.
6. A Constitution. Whether you form a club or not, you will need to formalise your group
with a constitution (your LETSystem Constitution may be enough, or could be amended).
You will also almost certainly need insurance (for staff and public liability) and health and
safety. The Community Composting Network can help put your group in touch with the
best sources of advice: other groups. The Community Composting Network is currently
lobbying Government for a change in the rules.
7. Marketing. Whether your funding plans depend on sales revenues or not, you must
think about marketing (the thing that turns production today into the means to carry on
tomorrow). Are you going to sell directly to the public, to your membership only or
through a retailer like a garden centre?
Some LETS schemes use LETS either to sell compost, pay for supplies, or both.

Loads of information at

Get on the SBBC mailing list for free help guides.
The Community Composting Network provides accessible, practical advice, support and encouragement to people
running, or wanting to start, a community composting project.
CCN, 67 Alexandra Road, Sheffield, S2 3EE
Tel: 0114 2580483
Your local authority has targets to increase recycling. There may be a Recycling Officer or similar in the Waste
Management Department. You may also find it useful to talk to the Local Agenda 21 Officer or the Councils
Environment Co-ordinator in the Environment or Planning Department.
Henry Doubleday Research Association researches sustainable organic growing and gardening and can give
advice on related issues including composting.
Contact: HDRA, Ryton Organic Garden, Coventry CV8 3LG.
Tel: 024 76 303517
Waste Watch advises on recycling and waste issues. Contact: Waste Watch,
Europa House, Ground Floor, 13-17 Ironmonger Row, London, EC1V 3QN
Tel: 020 7253 5962

Page 26

Further Appendices

Appendix 23
Stories for inspiration:
Festival and Conference Success!
Stewart Noble
For those who were there, the LETSlink Scotland Festival
and Conference weekend turned out to be all about
peoples dreams coming true. If you were there, you have
your own story to tell, so tell the others. For those who
werent there, may this inspire you to get involved.
On Friday 15th September 2000, despite fuel crises and
distance, one hundred and forty-four people came to
Forres for a celebration. Folk from all walks of life stayed
for the weekend. They ate, drank, made music and danced,
were entertained, informed and inspired. Folk came by
from Orkney in the north to Dumfries in the south, from
Dundee in The east to Ardnamurchan in the west. The
amazing thing was not that they got here at all but that
once here, they didnt need any cash. Local LETS members joined in the fun bringing
their families and children too.
Everyone had somewhere comfortable to stay, they were well fed on mostly local organic
food from a choice of three kitchens. The Findhorn Foundation Kitchen catered for eighty
guests, Minton House for ten and The Helios Caf and The Caf on the Green for everyone
else. The Caf on the Green was in the form of a large marquee and outside catering
area provided by Stirling Lets Make It Better mental health project. The food was excellent.
(The catering team was runner-up in this years Radio 4 Food Awards.) They provided
good wholesome food and nourishment for just 5 LETS.
In the mornings, the Sunflower Caf from West Glasgow LETS supplied bacon butties
and breakfast to the campers. The sun shone all of the time, the weather was mild and
warm. The park was buzzing with people, eating out, hanging out, or attending the 22
workshops and tours that were organised. Children played, drummers drummed, singers
sang. I heard Christian hymns and Celtic rhythms.
Two tepees next to the play house provided supervised crche facilities for the children
while parents took time out to attend their choice of workshops, covering everything
from computers and accounts to meditation and Reiki. On Saturday morning the emphasis
was on LETS development, organisational skills and self empowerment. On Sunday the
focus was health and well being. Half of these workshops were free, sponsored by
LETSlink and Scotbarter.
In the afternoon the Universal Hall was converted to a LETS supermarket with over 30
LETS traders selling their items and produce. The dance drama studio was a therapy
zone. Trading was astonishing with the highest trader, Aromantic, recording over 1000
LETs of sales in just two hours. Payment was made in the form of local exchange tokens
that were collected in a big rainbow- emblazoned bottle in the centre of the hall. By the
end of the weekend there were over 3800 bits of paper in that big bottle.
Page 27

Further Appendices

On Saturday evening the hall was transformed to give host to the Rainbow Concert. 30
performers played to a full house while Eves bar provided drinks for LETS and cash
cost only. The bar broke even exactly, creating over 70 hours of paid work to bar staff
and ushers and serving around four hundred drinks at cost price to thirsty folk. The
concert was the best I have ever shared in, with a diversity of acts performed by a host
of talent. The raffle itself raised over 350 LETS and cost virtually nothing and the LETS
auction took folks breath away as items sold for up to 5 times their normal price.
The Helios caf not only earned more than three times its usual turnover but also made
more cash than usual due to the non- LETS visitors the event attracted. Those who gave
willingly were rewarded fourfold. Those still attached to poverty, sickness, to fear of lack
or greed, take note. The 3,500 cash income generated for the Findhorn Foundation will
cover just one months debt repayments to the bank, the LETS created by traders will
go around the community forever.
During the weekend a very diverse bunch of over 300 people did what they do best in
exchange for local currency, not cash. They had fun and felt good about themselves
afterwards. Lets is more than money. LETSlink is funded by the National Lotteries board
to promote local exchange trading systems in Scotland. LETSlink invested around 4,000
(plus staff time) and with a further 500 sponsorship from Scotbarter, we paid for most of
the cash costs necessary for everyone. This included transport (part-subsidy) to Findhorn,
food and drink supplies and conference facilities provided by The Findhorn Foundation.
At most, people paid just 5 LETS in their own local currency for meals, paid workshops,
tours, childcare, and concert admissions.
Together we turned-over 48,000 LETS all of which will continue to re-cycle around Scottish
communities, interest free. That represents a multiple factor so far of 12. For every
pound spent, we have already created 12 Scotias, the new Scottish interest free exchange
currency. LETS is a currency that can be accessed and shared by everyone regardless
of age or ability. Unlike cash, people are not made to feel bad through punishing interest
charges, neither are they rewarded for hoarding the currency. LETS is only a means of
honest exchange between ordinary and extraordinary people.
What could only be experienced by those who were there was the very strong feeling of
goodwill, willingness to give and to receive. LETSlink Scotland paid everyone who
worked a co-operative rate of 5 LETS per hour. 30 performers at The Rainbow Concert
each received a performers share of 20 LETS. Workshop leaders received 50 LETS
each. Service need not be slavery when abundance is in the air.
The Core Group, the rainbow family, each focussed on their own areas. Kay, Clive and
Susan helped us to integrate with the various departments. Ruth Whitfield from Scotbarter
assembled an inspiring information area featuring local community projects in the foyer
of the hall. Nancy Jane Small co-ordinated the Rainbow Concert. David Robertson from
LETSlink Scotland co-ordinated all of the workshops while Morag, Mairi and Jeremy
kept the accounts and engineered the software.
Frances organised the crche and childrens activities, Tiffany and her friends from the
youth group hosted the teenagers. Jamie organised the Ground Force, converting the
runway to a safe, car free zone with clear signposting. Seven different areas, just like the
rainbow. Seven folk working together to make light of usually hard work and impossible

Page 28

Further Appendices

tasks. They each had lots of help of course from folk willing and eager to help. As the
overall co-ordinator it seemed to me that at anytime a potential problem arose, the
solution presented itself almost immediately, usually by someone standing nearby.
In hindsight there were so many things that could and should have gone wrong but
didnt. The sun shone for the entire duration and it only rained lightly when it was time to
leave. Simultaneously there was a burst water main cutting off Findhorn. Everything
including fresh water was provided naturally, exactly when required.
Everything just seemed to fall into place. At registration, despite last minute cancelled
bookings and folk arriving unexpectedly, we had on both nights exactly the right number
of beds. Folk brought food and wine to share at the gathering in the CC on Friday night.
Others walked around or were entertained by musicians at The Helios cafe. By 10.30pm
most folk had arrived and had found local accommodation paid for entirely with local
currency. Some stayed in The Park, some at Findhorn Outdoor Centre, some at Minton
or Newbold and some with friends or with local Lets B&B houses. Some slept on floors,
others in tepees or tents, two slept in Charlies yurt.
Local Exchange Trading Systems and barter networks are nothing new. They have been
around ever since people realised that it was easier to share and to co-operate to live
well. More than one quarter of the worlds trade is presently carried out through exchange
networks rather than using currency or cash.
Folk are realising that everything is always in exchange with everything else. The birds
dont need credit cards and bank loans so why should we. Petrol or cash shortages
wont stop the sun from shining. Why travel miles to work for money, to work in a job you
dislike or for folk who dont care, when there are folk nearby who value you? Why pay
for the money you create? Lets all just work for each other. Its a lot more fun and a lot
more rewarding. None of the wealth you create can end up in an arms dealers bank
account. You only need to be able to give and to receive and to keep both activities in
balance. Abundance follows. The energy from this weekend will now spread out freely,
just like the ripples in a pond.

The LETSlink Scotland 2000 Festival and Conference was a great success.
All those who contributed should take great pride in their achievement.

Page 29

Further Appendices

Page 30

Further Appendices

Appendix 24
Stories for inspiration
Give and take: a route to happiness. Who are you?
Lesley Rowan
If you ask someone Who are you? most peoples first answer is either
their job title: Im a Joiner, Nurse, Development Worker; or their
relationship to others: Im Alisons Mum, Freds wife. Asking What are
you working towards? may bring an answer about material possessions:
Im saving up for a new house, I like the look of the new ; or
improvements in working status Im aiming for promotion to or
qualifications Im studying for my... These are not wrong answers, they
reflect the threads of how we are encouraged to see our identity: in terms of what we
own, what we work as and our relationship to others.
We can put a lot of time and effort into sustaining our view of ourselves on societys
terms, but is it really who we are? This article looks at the ways in which we have been
conditioned to work towards things that will not bring us happiness. It then sets out the
ways that the give and take of LETS trading can help us use our time more effectively to
bring happiness to ourselves and others.

Human havings: trading our lives for this years model

Most people need little reminder of the pressures of consumerism. American car
manufacturers created built-in obsolescence in the 1950s; a rapidly accelerating trend
towards making products that will be deemed uncool long before the loan taken out to
purchase them has been paid off.
Keeping up with fashion, while avoiding being dragged down by a spiral of debt, means
putting a lot of time into making money. Yet for all but the very wealthy the status-thoughobjects race will mean we will always have to keep running because there will always
be new, even more fashionable, objects to buy. We are running in the wrong race, using
money and possessions to try and solve what are really psychological problems. Money
gives us choices; more money, more choices. But beyond meeting our basic needs
and having some treats, more time spent earning more money will exhaust us without or
perhaps instead of making us happy.

Human doings: needing others to tell us what we are worth

An identity that comes from a particular job role can also
become a treadmill. A desire for an increase in work
status may be a quest for a higher salary, or access to
more challenging work but it may also be about keeping
up with, or surpassing the achievement of those around
us. We are ranked against our peers from our earliest
years; graded on our ability to jump through hoops
fashioned by others. These academic and practical tests
leave us believing that we are good at some types of
task and have failed at others.
Page 31

Further Appendices

This rigid classification of abilities causes three types of damage:

First it discourages those who have failed from learning to improve, even
when that failure was that they simply learned a little slower, or were slightly
less good than others roughly their age on one day;
Second for those who have performed well, it can create a fear of failure in
future tasks. Peoples sense of identity becomes attached to being better
than those around them, but may lead them to become stuck, avoiding activities
in which they cannot be sure of being good;
Third, but linked closely to the first and second points, is that in relying on
other peoples judgements we get lost in a complex tangle of what we believe
we ought to think is important. This can become a net that holds us tight, using
up our time and energy, and preventing us from exploring what is really important
to us in this life.

Time: you can drift in its currents or you can swim

Industrial society pulled time apart from nature. Instead of measuring the flow of life in
terms of changing seasons, time has pressed into the service of the cash economy. We
speak of time being spent and saved, we attempt to buy or even make time. Yet to see
time as a commodity loses the core of what time is really about. Time is not something
separate from us: time is all we have. What we choose to do with our time is what we
choose to do with our lives.
Learning to swim out of the clutches of the industrialisation of time is not an easy task.
The currents are strong and many people do not seem to question the direction in which
they are being swept. To make some headway we need to find a route that offers us
some respite from these pressures. LETS can perform that role, a community - a shoal
- of others who share our direction and sense of purpose.

Using LETS to swim against the tide

Sometimes we underestimate the power of LETS to help us change our lives. I think it
can have a huge impact, by giving us repeated practical experience of how good each
small step can feel. To start off with we need to reflect on what we really like doing - and
find ways of encouraging other LETS members to support this. We also need to be
more creative about what we offer to do for others - so we get to enjoy that as well.
Here is a 10 minute thinking exercise to
get you started.
Take a piece of paper, turn it widthwise
and draw a line down the middle. On the
left-hand side write down things you really
like doing but dont do often enough. Write
down what you would like to do: hobbies,
sports, activities with friends or family, jobs
that would improve your house or garden.
Next write down why you dont get to do
them. If you are too busy doing other
things - like childcare or domestic tasks,
or you need help with part of a task - like
Page 32

Further Appendices

someone to bake a beautiful cake to make a party complete, or you need other people
to join in an activity - like a big gardening job, identify how other LETS members can
help. Next write down when you want to do these things. These trades are things that
will make you happy by getting help from others.
On the right hand side write down things that you like doing - and would enjoy doing for
other people. Think of what skills you have that others may like to buy from you: making
crafts or baking items to sell at a trading event, language skills you could share through
teaching, music skills you could share by performing. How you can trade these skills,
and when you can do this. Make sure to choose activities you like doing, and do them
in a way that you can enjoy. What to trade also includes things you no longer need: here
is a chance to de-clutter your life for fun and profit. Sell items you no longer use - be
radical, make space: look at the list on the left-hand page to remind you of the benefit of
having plenty of local currency to spend. Check up when your next trading event is
happening - arrange transport through LETS and try and advertise attractive items in the
newsletter beforehand.
When you have completed the exercise choose one trade from each side of the list and
do something about it this week. In a months time look at your list again and choose
another item from each side, and so on each month. In no more than six months time do
the exercise from scratch. Use your list to update your directory entries. Give & take is
good for you:
creates a sense of connection to others
improves your self-esteem by demonstrating your work/skills are valued
Values your own needs
Gives others a clear signal that you value the work/skills of others
Exchanging our skills, our time, through LETS offers a gradual practical way of working
towards a more balanced use of our time, and through this our lives. If the point of life is
to learn to find happiness, then LETS can be crafted into a very powerful tool indeed.

Page 33

Further Appendices

Page 34

Further Appendices

Appendix 25
Stories for inspiration
How to harness the power of LETS: get trading!
Lesley Rowan
In this article I will set out an unashamedly personal view that LETS offers each of
us a way to change our relationships with the world around us: our relationships
with other people and with the planet. I will also illustrate why I think individuals,
and communities, cannot realise the practical, social or psychological potential of
LETS unless we trade regularly and make a point of seeking diversity in what we
trade and who we trade with. My views are based on 8 years of LETS trading through
Stirling & Alloa LETS and my recent experience of participation in the Scotlandwide Scotia system.

Individual well being

This experience has
been great for my
encouraging me to
have a much more
rounded view of my
abilities and being sure
of a steady Groats
income has extended
my view of what I can
buy through LETS.

When I got involved in LETS I didnt realize how narrow my view of my skills had become.
My first directory entries offered word processing and desk-top publishing, loan of green
books and out-grown baby boy clothes: my work and home life written out as trades.
Nothing creative as Im not very good at that kind of thing. I grew up a football playing,
tree climbing academic tomboy who took pride in getting the lowest possible grades in
compulsory home economics.
These days I take delight in selling as much homemade lemon curd as Im prepared to
make, and having a loyal customer base for my elaborately iced gingerbread houses.
So what happened? This was not the result of someone waving a transformational magic
wand. It has come from a gradual process of extending my confidence and developing
new skills, and reorganising other bits of my life, so I spend more of my time doing
things that I really enjoy.
On the baking front, I started with trading simple cakes and biscuits. I got positive feedback
through LETS trades and the enthusiasm of my growing family for the results of my
experiments. I tested different recipe ideas through a regular LETS trade fair stall and
developed a steady income from the sales of fruit curds.
The diversification into gingerbread houses was quite a scary process. I saw a great
step-by-step guide complete with colour photos in a library book. I got the ingredients
together and spent a whole day carefully baking and icing. On the morning of the Stirling
& Alloa LETS trade fair I was still 49.5% sure that the results shouldnt be let out in public.
I was terrified it would collapse like bad MFI furniture, or worse that people would laugh
at me for even attempting such a project. I nervously put the house into the auction,
having no idea what to charge. After a vigorous spate of bidding the hammer went down
at 35 Groats. I also got 4 additional orders on the spot. The next Christmas word of
mouth sales from happy customers resulted in 8 further orders and the price has settled
down at 30 Groats per house.
This experience has been great for my self-esteem, encouraging me to have a much
more rounded view of my abilities and being sure of a steady Groats income has extended
Page 35

Further Appendices

my view of what I can buy through LETS. Valued trades include a lovely week in a Glen
Affric holiday cottage (and while we were away a local LETS member did a great job repapering our kids bedroom); a 3-piece suite, books and clothes for the whole family;
and hand made curtains so nice that THEY get visitors!
More important than the things that have been traded have been the friendships the
whole family has developed through LETS. There is something really important about
the reciprocal relationships that form when we really value the skills and qualities of the
people we trade with, and learn to value our own skills and qualities in turn.

Common Wealth
I think we should be
more direct in stating
that the power of LETS
comes from learning
how to form genuinely
reciprocal relationships.
We cannot learn this by
watching others. To
harness the power of
LETS, for ourselves
and our communities,
we have to commit
ourselves to the
process of learning to
trade effectively.

Learning to trade effectively comes from trial and error. A nagging doubt about a single
trade has put off many tentative LETS members. Guidelines on good practice in
negotiating and documenting trades can help. But in the end I see little alternative to
each of us going through the practical experience of learning what gives us genuine
pleasure, and seeking to build this into and around our LETS trading. This is a cyclical
process, not a one off metamorphosis. We have to keep on trading so we get the
regular kick of pleasure, exploring the feeling we get from a really good trade. This selfawareness is also essential for improving our recognition of signs that we are about to
buy something we dont really want or sell at a price that feels wrong. As each of us
commits to this learning process the strength and diversity of the whole LETSystem
LETS trades are like the leaves of a tree. It is the leaf that harnesses the energy from the
sun, creating sugary sap, which is then available for the growth and development of the
whole tree. It is through the exchange process of trading that LETS currency is created,
currency that is the sap through which the whole system grows and develops. Just as a
tree needs lots of leaves if it is to flourish a LETSystem cannot be expected to thrive
unless there are lots of rejuvenating exchanges.
Just as in the case of the tree, shared benefits come from sharing in the task of making
the exchanges happen. It has been common on my travels around Scottish LETS for
people to be stuck at the point where I would trade more often, but pushing the
responsibility for sparse or non-existent trading onto those currently administering the
system. Sure it helps if we have clear directories and newsletters, accurate statements
and a lively programme of trading and social events. However, even where LETSystems
have more than surpassed any good practice minima of such structures to support
trading activity, many LETS members are still stuck at the but stage.
I think we should be more direct in stating that the power of LETS comes from learning
how to form genuinely reciprocal relationships. We cannot learn this by watching others.
To harness the power of LETS, for our communities, and ourselves we have to commit
ourselves to the process of learning to trade effectively. A LETS community will thrive
when enough members commit to achieving a more balanced and enjoyable life, using
frequent local trading as a key part of this balance.

What am I going to do about my own trading? Im exploring whether

there is a Scotland-wide market for flat-pack gingerbread houses by post,
and Im working on how I can turn my new love of writing short stories
into a trading opportunity. Anyone want to trade?
Page 36

Further Appendices

Appendix 26
LETS and Community Business
Tor Justad and David Robertson
Seventeen people crowded the living room of Sunrise Lodge to learn about the first
steps to setting up a Community Enterprise and discuss how LETS can be integrated
into businesses. The group included LETS members from across the country and Findhorn
residents and visitors from as far a field as Japan, Australia and Denmark.

What is a Community Business?

It sells goods or services in order to benefit a group with shared needs or aspirations.
It doesnt distribute profits to its members - profits are re-invested in the community.
It is democratically owned and controlled by its members - one member, one vote.
Membership is open to everyone in the community - often one where unemployment is
high or among groups suffering from discrimination or other social disadvantage.
It creates employment opportunities and provides services for the community - profit is
not a high priority.
The activity range of
Community Businesses is
wide ranging.
Training, retailing, building,
security, recycling, local
radio, weather forecasting,
community care, catering,
manufacturing, swimming
pools all these and more
have produced examples of
Community Businesses.
At present very few businesses in the UK have developed with a built in LETS trading
component. Evergreen Furniture in Stirling has recently suspended operations because
of a failure to secure long-term grant funding. Interestingly Evergreen is continuing to
plan for trading in LETS because this will allow commercial activity without a requirement
for large cash financing. In its pilot operation Evergreen was attempting to provide furniture
to vulnerable groups within the Stirling community, recycle old furniture and provide
work experience for people recovering from mental health problems.
Community Businesses, in this case Evergreen is a Company Limited by Guarantee
and a registered Charity, are able to take advantage of many opportunities and benefits
not open to other businesses. Evergreen secured the use of two buildings at virtually
no rental cost and did not need to pay Council Rates. Vehicle hire was also secured at
more favourable rates and Institutions such as Stirling University gives Evergreen first
call on furniture from the halls of residence.
Page 37

Further Appendices

In order to have maximum flexibility to diversify and adapt to changing circumstances

the objectives of a Community Enterprise are usually drawn up so as not to impose
future restrictions e.g.
The relief of poverty by the alleviation of unemployment for the residents of
To provide and assist in the provision of training opportunities
To carry on business in manufacturing, construction, recycling and service
industries with a view to furthering the objects mentioned above.
Involve as many people in the community as possible in the choice of business
activity and play to the strengths of their talents.
People willing to put in a lot of voluntary effort are essential for success; therefore
involve a broad range of stakeholders in the planning stage. The Evergreen Furniture
Board had representatives from Stirling and Alloa LETS, the Lets Make it Better mental
health project and local people with past business and administration experience.

More information on setting up a Community Enterprise can be obtained

from Community Business Scotland or the corresponding organisations
in England, Wales and Ireland.

Page 38

Further Appendices

Appendix 27
Stories for inspiration:
The Story of a Nearly New LETS Clothing Exchange
Vicky Ferrier
I joined my local LETS system just over a year ago.
Id read about LETS in the past, so I knew (and liked)
the theory, but Id no experience of an actual system
or trading.
I joined at a trade fair and after looking round the stalls
I saw few people were trading solely in Carrons
(Falkirks currency), most folk wanted cash as well.
As a parent on benefits I didnt want to be involved in
anything that meant spending more cash. So my
immediate conclusion was that I should try and think
of ways traders (especially me!) could offer more
goods for Carrons only. Difficult, as I certainly wasnt
the only person on benefits or a low income. Could I get away from the problem that raw
materials cost cash?
I spent a couple of months thinking about this the first answer that leapt out at me (and
kept leaping out at me) was RECYCLING but how to put this into practice? At the trade
fair Id noticed quite a few stalls with clothes, but I hadnt bought anything despite the
gaps in my wardrobe. The trade fair was in April and I wanted to buy summer clothes,
but people were clearing out their winter wardrobes, and I didnt find anything in my, or
my daughters sizes.
I came up with the idea of running a nearly new clothing exchange. After all everyone
has clothes they dont wear, dont they? Clothes you dont like anymore or that dont fit
you wouldnt it be great to earn some LETS currency, and to know that someone who
needed them was using your old clothes.
All I needed to be able to offer this service to the system were clothes hangers and a
couple of racks, clean dry storage space and transport to trade fairs. I felt I could try out
this idea in a LETS system in a way that I could not have tried out a conventional business
idea in the cash economy. Originally I thought that I would offer to buy and sell items of
clothing at set prices; I would buy a skirt or shirt for 1 Carron, and sell for 2 Carrons (the
profit to cover what didnt sell and to pay folk to help run the exchange) and I thought I
would insist on good quality second hand clothes. In practice I found that people just
brought in bin bags full of clothes and were happier if I made them an offer for the lot so
they didnt have to take anything home. This meant that I had more unsaleable clothes
than I had reckoned on, but hey I knew where my nearest textile-recycling bank was.
So you guessed it, the heap to go to the recycling bank started to accumulate and I
started to wonder if there was anything I could do with these fabrics. Ive been sewing

Page 39

Further Appendices

patchwork for years, but most of the fabrics werent right for that, so I decided to have a
go at braided rag rugs. These are going very well (can anyone find me a source of
hessian for Scotias?).
So perhaps there hasnt been as much trading in clothes as I hoped for, people seem
keener to sell second hand clothes, than to buy them. I havent thought of a way to
connect the exchange with people who are most in need of clothing (for example,
someone whos moved from homelessness into a place of their own). Ive ended up
running everything myself, rather than being able to persuade folk to help staff the stall
at trade fairs, etc and pay them in Carrons. But my nearly new clothing exchange is
providing me with some of the raw materials for what I want to trade in LETS currency.
I would recommend folk take a look at their own LETS systems to see if this idea would
work there too.

Page 40

Further Appendices

Appendix 28
Stories for inspiration:
Letter from West-Lothian
Suse Coon
I was a little nervous about being placed in B&B
on my own with a strange lady from a place I
had only heard odd rumours about - would she
be preaching at me all day? When I was taken
to her caravan she wasnt even there! We met
later on and exchanged a few nervous but
friendly overtures and of course she was just as
nervous about what sort of person I might turn
out to be - would I abuse her hospitality? She
turned out to be absolutely sound and charming
and in a quiet way, we clicked beautifully. We
had an amazing amount of stuff in common.
She edits books, I edit magazines. We both love gardening. We both love the Western
Isles. We both love campervans. Ridiculous coincidences and we were both delighted
by them. But it didnt stop there. Back home and back at work, I picked up the phone to
someone from Ecclesmachan, a wee village in these parts, who wanted to write
something for my magazine. Her idea for the article wasnt great but I never like to
discourage people so we chatted on and eventually agreed a feature that we were both
excited about. She said she was really pleased to have worked something out as she
had kept thinking about the magazine and me while she had been home that weekend.
I mentioned that I had been away at the weekend too - at a place called Findhorn on the
Moray coast. There was absolute silence at her end. She was gobsmacked.
She came from somewhere near Nairn and knows the community well. And she had
spent much of that weekend kayaking in Findhorn bay. The vibes are still vibing.

Page 41

Further Appendices

Page 42

Further Appendices

Appendix 29
Sustainable Development:
The Earthships are Coming!
Steven Wray
Whilst sitting in the Lets
Community cafe in Stirling one
day last June, my wife pointed out
a poster on the notice board. The
poster was advertising a talk by
an American architect Mike
Reynolds, organised by a local
Lets member Paula Cowie. The
poster had the slightly off the wall
title of Are Earthships coming to
Scotland? I was intrigued and put
the date of the talk in my diary.
I went along to the meeting expecting a rather dry lecture on ecological housing issues.
In fact I was gripped from the first slide to the last, and left the room inspired by the
simplicity of the ideas expounded and their accessibility to ordinary people.
Mike Reynolds argues that if we are to take seriously the issue of sustainability then we
have to radically re-think how we meet that most basic of human needs -shelter.
Existing house design he argues increases dependency on centralised power and
water systems. In fact, he argues that modern houses are simply boxes that plug into
the various grids, without which they would not be able to function.
His Earthship concept is more than a green house design, it is a self-supporting system
capable of supporting human needs independently. The building itself is embedded in
the earth to tap into free heat/cooling available from the earths mass. The south face of
the building is glazed to access the heat of the sun. Water is collected from the roof, and
grey wastewater treated within the building.
The building uses waste products for its building materials. Car tyres are rammed with
earth to provide exterior walls; interior walls are made from aluminium cans and glass
bottles. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of his lecture, for me, was the accessibility of
the design for ordinary (i.e. not rich) people. The construction skills needed are also not
as extensive as compared to traditional brick, stone or wood framed buildings. Local
Currency systems could make them even more accessible, by reducing the need for
national currency (always a scarce resource).
I have for some time had a desire to build or renovate a home for my family and myself.
Mike Reynolds Lecture inspired me to think about his design and its practicality within
Scotland. Ive spent the last six-months researching the design and have come to the
conclusion that it is practical, and will be acceptable to planning authorities. I am currently
looking for a suitable building plot -the design places some restriction on where it is
practical to build, and my budget places more obvious restrictions.
Page 43

Further Appendices

When I have found a building plot and obtained the appropriate permissions, I hope to
utilise the LETSystem in Stirling & Alloa to help me make the building a reality. In effect
I will be approaching the LETSystem for a Groats mortgage, as I will need permission
from the system to run up a commitment beyond that allowed currently. Of course a
Groats Mortgage will not attract any interest, I will only have to put back into the system
what I have taken out. Once the Earthship is built I would pay off the commitment by
working for members of Stirling & Alloa Lets two -three days per week, This will boost
trading within the system, which will hopefully stimulate trading by other members,
I am hoping that the inspirational nature of the design will prove a good motivator for
getting members of the system to work on the project for local currency only. If I let my
imagination go I can see a colony of Earthships, either built by their owners using the
LETSystem or available for rent in local currency. One day maybe.

More at

Page 44