What Is the Lewes Pound?

The Lewes pound is a community currency for use by British residents of Lewes, East Sussex. Lewes pounds are accepted only by local businesses, some of which may offer discounts on items 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, East Sussex, in the United Kingdom.
  • 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.
  • The currency was first issued in 2008. For every Lewes pound issued, 5% of the value is donated to charity.

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. More than 100 businesses accept Lewes pounds, and a number of these merchants may offer discounts to encourage the currency's use.

Lewes pounds are paper bills that come in denominations of £1, £5, £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.

For every Lewes pound issued, 5% of the value is donated to Lewes causes. As of 2017, organizers of the project had raised £6,500 for charity.

The Lewes pound was launched in 2008. Other communities in the United Kingdom that have issued local and bioregional currencies include Bristol, Brixton, Exeter, Kingston, Liverpool and Totnes.

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.