A blue pound is one which starts its life within a community, stains each hand within that community blue as it passes through it, and stays there as long as possible.
To give an example:
Local electrician earns money. She sends her bloke to do the shopping and he goes to all the local shops ie non-corporates, non-supermarkets – real shops. The butcher employs a guy he went to school with, and buys his lamb and beef from local farmers. The abattoir is locally run (possibly by a farming co-op) and the hauliers who shift the meat are all based in nearby villages. The greengrocer buys his produce from local organic farmers, as well as seasonal produce – be it damsons or beetroot – from local growers nearby. The milk comes from that farm there, the co-op employs his friends and friends’ parents (usually as a second or third job), and the broken down vehicles are fixed by local mechanics, not national dealerships. Food miles are minimal.
The blue pound that said spouse spends is split between local people. At some point, it has to leave – fuel for the farmers and hauliers, cardboard boxes to pack the veg, components that his wife uses in her job as an electrician, telephone and mobile bills, even though that is only to ring to the next cell or exchange.
BUT, every which single chance that the local community has to become self-sufficient, then that blue pound stays a little longer in the community before a large corporate extracts it and spends it elsewhere – India, Bracknell, the City.
Apply to this next gen broadband.
Right now, almost every penny we spend on telecoms leaves our communities. We have no chance of getting blue hands from it. Pay your BT bill – gone. Mobile bill, ditto – how many local people do they employ who service the same or adjacent postcodes? Run a speed test and you will find your ISP is unlikely to be based within your community. Same with the majority of our utilities.
I have about eight stories in my inbox right now, this week, about telecoms companies stripping the blue pound assets from communities. And it’s not even Wednesday.
So, the solution is? I’ll share my thoughts in Part 2 tomorrow, but in the meantime, it’s your turn…….How many of you understand ‘blue pounds’ and keep your money in the community? What blue pound stories do you have to share? Have you run a community project where the blue pound has turned around your community, or not?
Are you an accountant? Do you know how to assess blue pounds, or even social capital? Grant funders – what weighting do you apply to blue pound projects? Public sector – do you assess the full blue pound value of any applicant/contractor before making a purchase decision?
Who understands where ‘use it or lose it’ and blue pound fit together? Whilst other countries make notable decisions that prevent asset stripping (India:Coca Cola vs national soft drink makers, Japanese car producers vs Tatra, Norton and Mahindra is a notable example), are we protecting our regional and national interests?
Ask yourself not just about regional blue pounds, but also national blue pounds. Airports, train companies, nuclear power stations, and now forests. Where will our blue pounds end up? IN the UK, or a long way away?
I would really welcome your views. Thank you.