Payroll Local with Brixton Pounds. Intrigued? Startacus outlines this London based initiative currently doing the rounds (and pay packets too).
In 2009 Brixton, a district in South London followed other towns in England like Totnes in Devon and Strand in Gloucestershire, in introducing a form of local currency.
Intended as an alternative to the pound sterling, it provides an interesting case study in examining local attitudes towards encouraging local business and start-ups.
Brixton though has taken another step recently in pushing the scheme, by creating Payroll Local. In this, members of the Lambeth council staff have the ability to get 10% extra in their wages if they take some of it in Brixton Pounds.
Brixton, Totnes and the other towns are hopeful that the more their respective local currency is used, the greater mutual benefit it will have for the whole community. Basically, the money is printed by a local company, goes into local peoples’ accounts who then spend it in local businesses. They in turn are able to improve output and potentially provide more jobs in the area.
The whole idea is thought to originate from the Great Depression and specifically a town in Austria called Wörgl. The Wörgl Experiment issued a new local currency at the height of the Great Depression in one of the worst affected countries– and became an almost unbelievable success. A growth in employment followed, local projects were created, funded and completed, and the town seemed to defy what was ravaging economies everywhere else in the western world.
As with most schemes though, there have been criticisms. There has so far been no clear cut data, which we have been able to find, on whether or not the scheme has actually been successful. What’s more, there are still plenty of shops in Brixton that haven’t gone in for the scheme for one reason or another. Either way, the Brixton pound is voluntary and the romanticism of the idea cannot be denied. Pictures on the notes contain celebrities alive and dead that have at one time lived in Brixton (including Lenford Garrison, David Bowie and Vincent Van Gogh).
The launch of the recent Payroll Local shows an innovative attempt at boosting the wares of local companies and something we at Startacus appreciate: thinking outside the box. We look forward to finding out more about this part of the iniative as it progresses.