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What it is

The Lewes Pound is a creative yet practical way for local people to make money work for Lewes. The Lewes Pound is essentially a voucher or token that can be traded locally as a complementary currency and used alongside Pounds Sterling.

Money spent locally circulates within, and benefits the local economy. Money spent in national chains doesn’t. The Lewes Pound encourages demand for local goods and services. In turn this builds resilience to the rising costs of energy, transport and food.

The Lewes Pounds is driven by three main considerations:

  • Economic: According to the New Economics Foundation, money spent locally stays within the community and is re-used many times, multiplying wealth and building resilience in the local economy.
  • Environmental: Supporting local businesses and goods reduces the need for transport and minimises our carbon footprint.
  • Social: By spending money in local outlets we can strengthen the relationships between local shopkeepers and the community. It also supports people finding new ways to make a living.

The Lewes Pound also benefits shoppers by creating stronger and more local shops, increasing a sense of pride in our community, decreasing CO2 emissions and increasing economic resilience. Furthermore, the Lewes Pound benefits local traders by increasing footfall and local business activity, encouraging people to buy local and increasing customer loyalty, highlighting the benefits of local shopping, bringing attention and attracting visitors to Lewes and minimising card-based transaction costs.

There is nothing new about the Lewes Pound. In fact, Lewes had its own currency between 1789 and 1895. Complementary currencies have existed since the beginning of civilisation, from the bead money of Papua New Guinea, which still exists, to the WIR, established between the World Wars and now used by 16% of Swiss businesses.

Such currencies are often created by local merchants, governments and citizens during times of great economic change, inflation or unemployment; recent examples exist in Argentina and Japan. The town of Berkshire, Massachusetts, has issued over $1.5 million Berkshares into circulation since it started a couple of years ago and is accepted by 300 shops and being adopted by nearby towns.

Closer to home, the Totnes Pound is now in its third phase of development.