LETS: A community development
LETS: A community development

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LETS: A community development

3 Peter, Roger, Rachel, Jenny and Veera

Figure 2
From left to right: Roger Bunker, Rachel Bunker and Jenny Hurst

Peter Jones, Roger Bunker, Rachel Bunker, Jenny Hurst and Veera Usher Muller

When they were interviewed, all these people were members of two LETS, started with help from Jan Hurst (no relation of Jenny) in the Greenwich area.

Peter Jones was a member of a scheme on the Ferrier estate, an area with high levels of poverty and deprivation, and many lone parents. The area was perceived to be crime-ridden and challenging to work and live in. In the audio clip, he describes how he came to be involved, and the trades he'd made since joining. Peter built up a large number of ‘Squares’ (the scheme's currency) by fixing washing machines and doing other electrical repairs and assembling flat-pack furniture. He and his wife had their kitchen redecorated for 40 Squares, plus the cost of the paint.

Roger Bunker and Rachel Bunker are both registered partially sighted. Roger worked for Remploy and Rachel was an unemployed nursery nurse. They, Jenny and Veera belonged to ‘LETS Get Together’ in Greenwich. They had all traded in various ways, or helped out in the LETS office. Rachel emphasised the importance of being local for disabled people:

They tend to know more people in their local area, rather than people that are outside their local area, so they feel more comfortable and more safer trading with the local community.

While the recordings were being made, the issue of social security benefits and LETS came up. At the time, the LETS and Benefits Campaign was lobbying the government to amend the benefits regulations so that LETS currency units earned would not affect benefit entitlement.

The campaign was a partial success in that the rules were changed to enable people to trade up to the ‘disregard level’ of £5 per transaction, for a single person, and £15 for a couple, amalgamated to the end of a year to the equivalent of £260, or 260 LETS tokens.

Pressure was continuing to get the government to recognise the value of LETS in the community, helping people to discover or develop skills, and build confidence with a view to empowerment in all aspects of their lives, and as a route to employment. The extent to which benefits rules were acting as a deterrent to the very people who might gain from membership was also a matter of concern for the campaigners.


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