What kind of Pound is really worth two pounds? A Brixton Pound!

There’s breaking news here at the Brixton Pound. We’ve just had the results of some research on three B£ businesses and worked out that every B£ you spend there is actually worth much more to the local economy.

‘But how can this be?’ I hear you ask. To answer that I’ll have to talk economics for about 10 seconds, but bear with me: if I can understand it it’s not that complicated.

We’ve used a tool called the ‘Local Multiplier 3,’ developed by one of our sponsors the new economics foundation. By asking businesses about their annual income, how much they spend locally, and then asking how much their suppliers and staff spend locally, we’ve calculated what proportion of their original income keeps circulating in the local area. Every time that money changes hands, it creates money for the local economy, effectively ‘multiplying’ the original income. For example, Brixton Cornercopia Deli and Café has a score of 1.84. This means that if you spend £1 there, it’s worth £1.84p to the local economy. Viva Café  on Brixton Station Road is even higher at 2.09. And even Brixton Cycles, who don’t have much choice but to source all their cycle goods from a non-local wholesaler, has a higher than average score of 1.35.

Why are their scores so high? Both cafés buy wholesale items from local grocery stores, and at fruit, vegetable, meat and fish stalls in Brixton market. These businesses, in turn, re-spend a lot locally because although their produce is often bought outside Brixton, they have higher staffing costs than a supermarket. They also go to local businesses for things like advertising, maintenance or lightbulbs. Compare this to the recently opened Starbucks who are unlikely to have any local suppliers (though, perhaps unsurprisingly, they weren’t keen on giving me all the information I needed for an LM3). Instead a large proportion of their income sits gathering interest in a bank or goes to shareholders. The average score for chain stores is much closer to 1.10.

Brixton Pounds are a brilliant way to facilitate more local supply chains, because businesses need to find ways of spending the B£ in their till. We’ve just launched a new directory of local suppliers which take the B£ (soon to be on the website) and a number of businesses are already beginning to shift suppliers as a result.

One shop changing where they get their tomatoes might not seem like it’s going to save the world. But you’d be amazed how it adds up. We’ve worked out that just the supply changes we know about are keeping an additional £28,600 per year circulating in Brixton. And that’s not including all the supply changes that we don’t know about.

These figures have once again reminded me why shopping locally is so important, particularly in this economy. More than once when talking to people about the B£, I’ve been asked whether I have some kind of grudge against Streatham, Dulwich or Peckham. But it’s not that Brixton’s better, or more important than other areas. The Brixton Pound is about sourcing in local, independent businesses, rather than large multi-nationals. It’s about supporting Jamal at Viva Cafe, or Harry at Olley’s Fish Experience, rather than the CEO of Sainsburys. It’s about a more resilient local economy. It’s about more jobs. It’s about making money work for us, rather than it always being the other way around.

So now you know you can do all this just by buying carrots in the market, stop surfing the internet and get B£ shopping.

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