In August 2020 we received an enquiry from Healthcare Improvement Scotland, about whether – in the light of stretched budgets – LETS or Timebanks could help with Social Care in the Community. We were not invited to participate in their discussions, but some time later received a report of the outcome, which concluded that “despite continued interest in LETS and timebanking across the world, including a growing body of literature, there is little consensus on where the movement is going and what future potential it holds. The reason for this includes the ongoing diversification of the CCS model, which is adapted and reimagined by its protagonists across the globe with remarkable dynamism to work alongside mainstream economic and social systems”.

This implies that work needs to be done by the LETS community to develop a coherent model that could be taken seriously as a tool contributing to a better system of Social Care. The issue that occurs to me is that, whereas the LETSystem model viewed LETS as a business, most groups working with the LETSlink model view themselves as independent grassroots networks, which means that asking them to adopt a uniform format is like herding cats. Indeed, proposing that the NHS or Local Authorities develop a model of mutual credit to fund social care could look like a “takeover”. Meanwhile, the pandemic has stimulated a huge increase in voluntary neighbourhood support jut to make sure that people confined to their homes do not starve.

So it puts the ball in the court of us as the community of LETS practitioners to consider these issues and come up with something that could be of use. This would involve a huge amount of work, and without funding, where do we start? If you have any ideas do get in touch via our Contact Form. Meanwhile, Sarah Bowyer’s and Gerd Peter’s report is thoroughly researched and well-written, and deserves full consideration: Reciprocal Exchange Schemes – a discussion paper by Sarah Bowyer and Gerd Peters


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