How Does LETS Work?

LETS are Local Exchange Trading Schemes. We are part of a world-wide network of community exchange systems, re-creating local currencies, which operate in a completely different from mainstream money. As well as supporting local networks which help to create alternative forms of wealth in these times of austerity, we are in coalition with many other groups, each focusing on different aspects of monetary reform, and are happy to publicise their events for the information of our members.

LETS are community organisations which bring people together in a friendly network so that they can exchange goods and services without the need for money. The organisers compile a directory of Offers and Wants and arrange meetings so members can get to know each other, and make connections for trading.

So how do the members trade?

The way it works is that members each have an account in the currency and can give some of it to another member who has provided a service for them, out of their own account – so their account goes negative whilst that of the recipient goes positive. Soon they will need to do a good deed for another member to get some currency back into their account. About half the members will be “in commitment” at any one time, and the whole system balances to zero. This system is called Mutual Credit.

That’s the gist of it. Most groups were founded before the existence of the internet, many now use websites in various ways. LETSlink is committed to providing online systems, but even with more sophisticated tools, groups do not seem to function on auto-pilot – there’s quite a lot more to running a LETS than meets the eye. LETS organisers who manageto keep a system going over the years are highly skilled, dedicated and resourceful individuals, and the importance of this forum is to enable skills and knowledge to be shared.