In the week of the first birthday of the Brixton Pound, we investigate a new idea for the local economy
Music, cake and even photo-calls with the mayor were in place last night for the celebration of Brixton Pound’s first birthday at the Granville Arcade. But as plans for the co-operative council get underway, Lambeth is going to be experimenting with yet more alternative models for community living. The New Economics Foundation (nef), responsible for much of the impetus behind the Brixton Pound, has come up with a proposal to incentivise people to take on new responsibilities in their locality.
Nef, in cooperation with the Transition Towns network, has suggested the introduction of a loyalty scheme – much like the Tesco Clubcard or BA Air Miles – in which residents collect ‘points’ by carrying out actions beneficial to the community, such as recycling waste, or shopping at local businesses. Points can then be redeemed in exchange for public transport tickets, sustainable goods and services or cultural activities such as free cinema or gallery tickets.
Nef are also working with Social Trade Organisation (STRO), a Dutch NGO which has designed an online software payment scheme that could be adapted for a public loyalty scheme. According to nef, Cyclos “is a not-for-profit open source system that is dynamic and allows for continuous innovation as new currency models are adapted. Cyclos allows users to administer their accounts, view their transactions, and make (secure) payments via web access or mobile phone.” The STRO representative on the nef team has already designed another, very similar scheme in Rotterdam called the Nu Spaar Pass, a card which allows residents to collect points and trade them in for services.
Lambeth Council is in talks with nef, but is still considering different proposals and has not endorsed the idea yet. There is another public meeting on 23 September where residents are invited to “contribute and help shape the commissions’ final report”.