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Everyone knows that the current banking system is at the root of many of the economic evils we face as a Nation. The banks enslave people with interest and stifle business investment.


Yet Nationalists are not looking hard enough at alternatives like Credit Unions and, dare I say it, the Islamic banking system – which forbids the charging of interest on loans (usury). I’d like to kick off some debate with a very brief look at one alternative, the idea of local currency systems.

The first area to issue its own currency was Totnes in Devon. The Totnes Pound was launched in March 2007. According to the site of the Transition Town Totnes, here’s how it works:

Totnes Pounds enter circulation when people choose to exchange their sterling currency into Totnes pounds at one of four places around Totnes. At present the exchange rate is 1TP for £1.

Totnes Pounds can then be spent at participating businesses, of which there are currently around 70. Some of these are now offering discounts for certain purchases that are made in Totnes Pounds to encourage usage.

People can exchange their Sterling into Totnes Pounds at a number of issuing points around Totnes. People can also accept Totnes Pounds in change from participating shops. This does not create new pounds, but does help them to circulate and enables shoppers to show their loyalty to the local economy.


Every Totnes Pound in circulation is therefore 'backed' by one pound of Sterling. This money is put into a bank account.

Totnes Pounds then circulate between consumers and businesses. Some businesses spend the Totnes Pounds that they receive with other local businesses. This strengthens the local economic multiplier, which means basically that money stays within the community rather than leaking out. If a business has an excess of Totnes Pounds they are able to exchange the surplus back for Sterling.

At the moment the project is managed by an unincorporated community association. However, the project team have been working with Co-ops UK to set up an Industrial and Provident society which will be the long term vehicle for managing the currency. This will ensure that the project is owned by the local community and run for its benefit.

Businesses that accumulate an excess of Totnes Pounds are able to exchange them back for sterling. However, we encourage them to think about how they can spend them themselves, to strengthen the 'local multiplier' and build new relationships.

In the longer term we plan to diversify the asset which backs the currency. In future it might be possible to back it with land, energy or labour. At this point the currency will be able to play an even more significant role in building economic resilience.’

As well as the Totnes Pound in Devon, alternative or complementary currencies can also be found in Lewes in Sussex, Stroud in Gloucestershire and Brixton in South London. 

All issue their own pound which only circulates in the local area. This means that more of the money spent in the local area stays in the local area. It builds local wealth. This helps businesses thrive in the face of recession and fierce competition from chain stores. This in turn saves jobs.

The economic, environmental and social aspects of these alternative currencies should be of great interest to Nationalists. Mutual aid in the form of provident societies, Credit Unions, friendly societies, Local Exchange Trading Systems and the like can take the edge off recession. If you support these ventures and get involved, we can start to build an alternative from the grassroots to our corrupt and damaging Banking system. If Stroud and Totnes can have a local currency, why not your town?


16/07/2011, By Patrick Harrington


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