TheÂ Brixton PoundÂ (BÂ£) is a local complementary currency, launched on 17th September 2009. It does not replace the Â£ Sterling, but is used in parallel with it. The BÂ£ is the first UK complementary currency in an urban setting,Â bornÂ to support local independent businesses, whoÂ face tough competition from high street chains, and who are also often unable to access cheap credit. Needless to say these small independent businesses find themselves stifled in their ability to innovate and develop.Â Research by the Federation of Small Businesses shows that 2,000 small businesses close every year in the UK. They often replaced by the same high street chain stores up and down the country, turning our towns into â€˜Clone Townsâ€™.
As shopping in large retail chains increasingly becomes the only option for many, our very consumer choice is undermined: gone are the variety of local shops and our ability to chose where to spend our hard earned cash. And as large retail chains apply their purchasing muscle on them, farmers and producers are also squeezed.
So why is it important to support local businesses? Every time money changes hands, it creates money for the local economy. This is known as the â€˜local multiplierâ€™ effect. Research shows that 80% of all money spent in chain stores leaves the local area to reach distant shareholders. However, when compared to retail chains, a greater share of the money spent in independent businesses circulates within the local area, boosting local economic development and supporting local jobs. Therefore as the BÂ£ can only be accepted within participating local businesses,Â itÂ encourages more local trade and production.Â (See our recent articleÂ ‘What kind of pound is really worth two pounds?’)
By promoting local trade and production, theÂ BÂ£ also helps reduce the amount of carbon emissions generated through transportation, mitigating climate change as well as making our community more resilient in the face of dwindling reserves of cheap oil. As the cost of fossil fuel continues to rise, and with climate change increasingly affecting the way we live, the BÂ£ can reduce our vulnerability to both such realities.
Last, but not least,Â the BÂ£ is a tremendous community development tool, which has helped raise awareness about theÂ goodÂ of Brixton (as opposed to the Bad and the Ugly), and to dispel its stereotypical negative image.Â The BÂ£ has highlighted that people in our midst are prepared to go the extra mile (e.g. go through the effort to exchange Â£ Sterling for BÂ£) to support their local businesses. This isÂ a clear sign of an abundance of good will and vision on the part of the local community, andÂ something to be proud of.
So what will you be spending your Brixton Pounds on?