What Is the Lewes Pound?

A Lewes pound is a local currency for use by residents of Lewes, East Sussex, United Kingdom. Lewes pounds are only accepted by local businesses and merchants, some of which may offer discounts on items that are purchased using the local currency. Lewes pounds were launched as part of an initiative to inspire consumers to shop locally.

Proponents hope that by using Lewes pounds, consumers can help decrease carbon emissions by cutting down on the number of goods that are transported long distances to be purchased in Lewes.

Key Takeaways

  • A Lewes pound is a local complementary currency for the community of Lewes, in the United Kingdom.
  • First issued in 2008, the goal of the Lewes pound is to promote local economic activity and community business relationships.
  • Proponents hope that by using Lewes pounds, the community can also help decrease carbon emissions by cutting down on the number of goods that are transported long distances.

Understanding the Lewes Pound

Lewes pounds are a form of sectoral currency, which is a medium of exchange that only has value within a limited marketplace. The Lewes pound is a local currency that is not backed by the U.K. government, nor is it intended to replace the British pound (GBP), which is also sometimes referred to as the “pound sterling” or cable. Instead, the Lewes pound is designed to function alongside the British pound as a complementary currency.

It is legal for merchants to transact in Lewes pounds; however, the local currency is not considered to be legal tender so merchants do not have to accept it. To encourage its use, a number of merchants offer discounts to customers who choose to pay with Lewes pounds.

Lewes pounds are paper bills that come in denominations of one, five, 10, and 21. Consumers can obtain Lewes pounds at designated issuing points and spend them with any local merchant that accepts them.

One Lewes pound is worth one pound sterling. There is a 5% transaction fee (5 pence) associated with acquiring Lewes pounds. The 5% goes to the Live Lewes Fund, which supports community organizations local to the Lewes area.

The year 2018 marked the 10th anniversary of the Lewes pound. It was inspired by other local and bioregional currencies such as the Totnes pound, which was launched in Totnes, Devon, United Kingdom, in 2007.

Lewes Pound and Bioregionalism

The Lewes pound is an example of a complementary currency that exemplifies the concept and adoption of bioregionalism. Bioregionalism encourages citizens to become more intimately familiar with and dependent on local food, materials, and resources as a way to become more self-sufficient.

As an example, establishing a local farm or garden at home is encouraged, rather than buying vegetables at a big grocery store, because store-bought produce is dependent on petroleum, natural gas, and chemicals used in pesticides, fertilizers, large-scale food production, and shipping. Lewes pounds help stimulate bioregionalism because local currency emphasizes local products over those that were grown or created thousands of miles away.