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Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 12:27 UK

The Brixton Pound

Andrew Cryan
The Politics Show, London
BBC London

Money is on everybody's mind at the moment. But could the way we think about it soon be challenged?

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Brixton, South London is famous for its street life, nightlife and all too often, its crime.

Soon it might become known for something else too.

September 2009 will see the launch of the Brixton Pound, making it the third place in the country to have its own local currency.

Brixton currency

The scheme is being launched by a local charily and works a bit like a gift voucher.

The idea is that you buy Brixton Pounds (for the price of £1 each) and spend them in the local independent shops that have signed up.

Sterling
Swapping Sterling for the Brixton Pound?

The shopkeepers will keep them and offer them as change to those who want them, keeping the money circulating through the area.

For every Brixton Pound that has been bought, £1 in Sterling will be kept at the Lambeth Savings and Credit Union.

You can change the local currency back into normal cash at certain designated places.

Spend locally

The idea behind the scheme is to support local business, encourage people away from large chain stores and hopefully to help the environment by making people travel less.

But some are sceptical about the scheme, accusing it of being protectionist - putting up a trade barrier that means less money will be spent in the surrounding areas such as Streatham or Peckham.

Peckham
Will less money be spent in nearby Peckham?

Some shopkeepers we spoke to were also concerned that they could end up with hundreds of Brixton Pounds in the till that people would not want to take in change.

Rather than simply put them in the bank, they will they have to go to the effort of changing the notes back into Sterling.

There are currently thousands of local currencies in operation over the world.

For some they represent a new more sustainable way of living.

For others, they are a route back to the middle ages, when every town had its own currency.

Find out more about the Brixton Pound:


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