Local economies and making money stick!
Improving the local economy by making money stick and bringing in more money and resources
As we receive Big Local plans, areas are telling us that improving the local economy by getting more money to ‘stick’ in the area and bringing in more money and resources is a priority.
In this newsletter we highlight examples of some of things that Big Local areas are doing or planning to do around this priority. In December 2013 we held an event called sticky money and leaky buckets which was about understanding how and why money sticks and circulates in some communities and not others, looking at where money leaks out and looking outside of the area to draw money in.
If you’d like to tell us about what you’re doing in your Big Local area to help money stick, stop it from leaking out or bringing money in then please do, we’ll be happy to share your story.
Debbie Ladds, chief executive
Money flowing in, money flowing out, and how to plug the leaks!
We often use the idea of leaky buckets to get people talking about how money flows through (or leaks out) of areas. This idea comes from the new economics foundation (nef).
The amount of money flowing through every town, city and village is more than most of us can imagine. Around £1,500 billion (or £1.5 trillion) flows through the UK every year.
But Big Local areas tend to benefit less than other areas from the money flowing through them because much of it leaks out as quickly as it enters. So one thing Big Local can do is share knowledge about why money sticks more in some communities than others and how Big Local can be used to change this. That’s why at events we’ve handed out drawings of leaky buckets and asked people to think about how money flows in, where it leaks out, and how the leaks can be plugged. These discussions help people understand more about their local economy.
This exercise is useful in two ways. Firstly, leaky bucket discussions help people to think about money flowing which relates to everyone. It generates discussions about the wages people bring home from their employers, the takings brought in by local businesses, money spent on new construction, and people buying property. Then it gets everyone thinking about ways money leaks out – residents spending their wages paying landlords who live elsewhere, paying bills to national utility companies, spending money in shops which are part of large national or global chains. And finally the discussion turns to plugging the leaks – having more shops and businesses which are owned by people locally, drawing people from outside to come in and spend money in the area, helping local traders win more business and bringing money in.
The second way in which these discussions are useful is that people in Big Local areas start thinking more about relationships they can build with local businesses and the influence businesses and traders have. For example at the sticky money event the chair of Bountagu Big Local talked about how he hopes to get the local pub more involved with supporting Big Local because for many people the pub is the community hub and the couple who run it are key influencers.
Why don’t you draw your own leaky bucket and start a discussion in your area about the money coming in, the money flowing out and how to plug the leaks!
Central Boston Big Local – working to take advantage of the assets in the area
Boston is on the east coast of Lincolnshire and Central Boston Big Local is one of the five Big Local areas working with UnLtd as a pilot area to boost their local economy. Rachel Lauberts, chair of Central Boston Big Local said:
“Boston has a really rich history – it was once one of the biggest trading ports in Britain!”
Boston is one of the largest fruit and vegetable producers in the country and has low levels of unemployment. However, the pressure by large supermarkets to drive down prices means lower wages for workers and Boston has some of the lowest average wages across England. The accommodation rental rates are higher than the Lincolnshire average, which means that the cost of living for residents is high.
Central Boston Big Local think that there’s underused potential for the area’s economy and want to work to take advantage of the assets in the area which include an outdoor market, heritage buildings and a port. Their plans involve a number of ideas including:
- using the heritage of the port, which historically was part of a network of trading routes (Hanse League) to develop new business links, tourism and cultural exchanges through a revived ‘new Hanse’
- a local association for traders to help traders work together, encourage new enterprises and encourage migrant worker skills
- using the area’s natural assets of canals and nature reserves to attract tourism including bird watching.
MyClubmoor, Big Local area in Liverpool have identified improving the local economy as a priority in their plan
For MyClubmoor, improving the local economy is a priority. Low levels of employment, limited opportunities and low paid work is a big challenge for people in the area. MyClubmoor are in the process of planning and working on different initiatives to improve the economy and hope that the approach of Big Local will help them to make a difference for the future. Their initiatives include:
- making grants and loans available to individual people as well as small groups to support social enterprise (they will work with a credit union or community development finance institution to offer loans locally)
- allocating £50k of their Big Local funding to support enterprise with the aim of creating new employment opportunities and apprenticeships
- a market (already up and running) for local traders to pay £10 for a table and sell their produce
- striving to drive bigger economic changes by working with new partners including individuals, businesses and organisations outside of the area (one possibility is trying to influence a large retailer to ensure that when they open in the area this year they employ a good proportion of people living locally).
For more information on how Central Boston and MyClubmoor are developing their local economies see our recent sticky money case study.
Local street markets and community markets
Street markets, community markets and table top sales are some of the ways that Big Local areas are providing people with an opportunity to trade locally, attract others to the area to spend some money, and bring people together.
Slade Green Big Local in south east London talked to lots of people about the possibility of a local market including; was it something people wanted, what would they like to see being sold at the market and how often it should run. Slade Green successfully organised their first market in November 2013 and shared some pointers of what helps to make a market successful including:
- advertising to ensure a good turnout
- contacting speciality and local traders
- visiting other markets to make contacts and attract potential traders.
If you are interested in community run markets then have a look at the West Norwood Feast – a volunteer powered street market in south east London. Run by local residents, the Feast is a monthly market which started in 2011. The Feast has different ‘hubs’ in the area spread out on market day bringing life to the high street.
Watch this short video to hear about the difference the West Norwood Feast has made in the area, both for the community and local businesses. They have a website which includes their journey so far and their Flickr photos show you all the different kinds of activities they do and the different groups locally that get involved.
The Brixton Pound
The Brixton Pound (B£) was launched in September 2009 as a physical paper-based currency and was followed in September 2011 by the launch of the electronic B£ pay-by-text. Around 250 businesses in the area currently accept paper B£ and over 160 have pay-by-text accounts.
The B£ is one of five local currencies that currently run in the UK. The others are Totnes, Lewes, Stroud and Bristol. No local currency is the same. They are all designed to respond to local economic needs and be representative of that area’s history and culture.
The vision of the B£ is to make money work for Brixton by supporting smaller shops and traders who are under threat from the recession and larger chains. It stays in Brixton and circulates, increasing local trade and community connections. The B£ encourages people to think about where their money is going and commit to spending a proportion of it locally. It helps to maintain the diversity and uniqueness of Brixton’s shops and market and build pride in Brixton.
To find out more visit http://brixtonpound.org