Let’s start with the question “What is LETS?”

LETS is an acronym for Local Exchange Trading System.

It’s a bartering system.

When I lived in Reading I had a big house that needed furniture. I had no transport. I would obtain furniture via freecycle and ask a guy on the local LETS group to collect it for me. I paid him petrol money (cash) and also tokens called “Readies”. Each area has it’s own name for the token.

‘Readies’ in Reading

‘Locks’ in Wakefield (because of the canal system)

‘Tones’ in Wellington/Taunton because of the river Tone.

These are the ones I know about because I’ve lived and been a member there.

Wellington LETS members are keen on the gardening work party. Probably because, being in the country, people have fairly large gardens. So once or twice a year they organise a day where other members come and weed or prune etc. There is usually a complimentary lunch thrown in, some chatting and community spirit.

The picture above was taken at a work party. Such fun on a glorious day.

The garden owner then pays the workers so many Tones per hour for their effort which is agreed between them.

Another things that LETS does is hold a market. Usually once a month. People bring produce they’ve grown or food they’s made and sell them for Tones (and sometimes cash). These are open to the public so the public just pay cash but regulars are encouraged to join. People might also have a table selling bric-a-brac.

People also barter their services. When I was in Reading I looked after a member’s son for a few hours and cut another member’s hair. I hosted the AGM barbecue and was paid in Readies for the hire of my home and garden.

So now I’m looking for people who are available to give lifts when I want to do errands etc.

3 thoughts on “What is LETS and How Does it Work?

    1. Different groups do it slightly differently. One way to do it is to give everyone who joins a number of tokens, say 50 – 100. I would advise being abundant with the initial amount because this encourages trading. What stops people using the system is when they don’t have many token in their account.
      They can then start trading straight away. You can call the tokens whatever you like. Groups usually use a name that pertains to the town or area.
      Have everyone on a central register. You can charge them a small amount of stirling to join so you have some funds for printing leaflets etc.
      You can create paper cheques for people to write their name, account number, the recipients name and the amount of tokens and what it was for. Or you can have people send an email with this info on to the token treasurer. Some people don’y have internet so it’s good to do both unless the tokens treasurer doesn’t have internet. Some groups have a drop box in a local shop like an independent whole food store for the collection of the cheques.
      This person keeps track of all the transactions on a balance sheet for all members.
      At the end of the month or year all members get a statement of trading.
      It doesn’t matter if people go into the red. At least it’s evidence of trading. Of course if someone goes a lot in the red then I would encourage them to earn some.
      When someone does something for the system, like go to the core group meeting, or does a particular job for the system like holding an office, the system pays them tokens.
      Some groups keep track of this and stress about balancing the system’s account. But I subscribe to the notion that it’s all made up anyway, that is it’s not based on gold or anything tangible so why bother.
      Most groups give their tokens an unofficial value of £1 as a guideline for transactions but this must not be official because of tax reasons.
      I hope this helps.


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