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Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) are local, non-profit “exchange” networks in which all kind of goods and services can be traded without the need for money. A LETS network uses an interest-free local credit or “currency” so direct swops do not need to be made. A LETS member may earn local credit by doing, eg, childcare or computer work for one person, and spend it later on food, hiring equipment, plumbing or carpentry with another person on the same network.
In the UK an estimated 20,000 people are now trading in over 400 LETS networks in cities towns and rural communities everywhere from Cornwall to Skye, or Western Ireland to Kent. LETS currencies have their own names, and often reflect local distinctiveness- Readies in Reading, Locks in Camden, Groats in Stirling, New Berries in Newbury, Piers in Southend On Sea. LETS can help a wide cross section of the community- individuals, small businesses, local services and voluntary groups- to save money and resources and extend their purchasing power. Other benefits include social contact, health care, tuition and training, support for local enterprise and new businesses, and a revitalised community.
How LETS WorksEdit
1. Local people set up a club to trade between themselves, keeping their own record of accounts.
2. A directory of members offers and requests- goods, services or items for hire, priced in local LETS units- is compiled and circulated.
3. Members use the directory to contact one another whenever they wish. They pay for any service or goods by writing a LETS cheque or credit note for an agreed amount of LETS units.
4. The credit note is sent to the LETS book-keeper who adjusts both members’ accounts accordingly.
Using a LETS directoryEdit
The Directory is where members list the skills, goods and resources they are offering and those they want. Here are some tips for traders;
When you contact another member to make a trade, make absolutely sure that you both are clear about what you are trading and for how much.
Make sure you know if there is a portion to pay in sterling, and what costs there may be, eg, for travel, materials etc.
Remember everything is negotiable, so if you are not happy with the price, haggle!
An entry in the directory is no guarantee of quality. Try to make sure the person you are employing is up to the job. Most members are competent at what they offer, but few are professional. So check with them first. You can also ask another person who has previously traded with them if they were happy with the job.
If someone contacts you requesting your service, be honest- if you can’t do it- say so. If you havn’t got the time, don’t arrange to trade until you have. If you make arrangements with someone, keep to them, or tell them that you can’t in good time.
Only advertise what you are willing and able to offer. If you offer what you enjoy doing, it will be easier and more fun.
LETS is here to put people together, to help match skills with needs. As an organisation we cannot take responsibility for the cost and quality of any trade that members make. Having said that, if you do have a problem, and need it sorting out, contact the co-ordinator. But if you follow the above points, problems are unlikely.