Hands off LETS

The relevant Government Ministers and Tony Blair himself are all now on record as endorsing the benefits of LETS as grassroots community-based initiatives. According to Angela Eagle MP, the new Social Security Minister, “broad enthusiasm” now exists throughout the government for amending the benefits regulations so that LETS units earned will not impact on benefits.

Until the combined new policy recommendations have the final go-ahead from Government and come into effect, the DSS are being instructed with a request for a “hands-off LETS” memo to be sent to local benefits agencies. Just Let us know if you receive any hassle.

The Social Exclusion Unit had already put LETS at the top of the agenda in its major report on community economic renewal, Bringing Britain Together. The Employment Minister and DSS also showed they saw LETS as a means to empowerment. Confidence building and skills developed on LETS are to be regarded in themselves as worthwhile.

A new all-party group of MPs to support LETS has now been formed by Linda Gilroy MP, the initiator and champion of the LETS cause in Parliament, with the backing of the Cooperative Party. Linda’s latest move with the group has been to table an Early Day Motion (EDM), ‘LETS and Social Inclusion’, which MPs can sign up to from now to July.

From the government viewpoint, LETS is seen as offering the potential to help people and communities out of economic or social isolation and community breakdown. Our own High Street reflects this most clearly as local retailers close to be replaced with Charity/Recycling or Multi-National shops. Almost a third of waged people in Forres are now paid below the minimum wage rate. That’s the highest of any town in the UK! Many more folk are unwaged. YOU are already part of the solution to this global problem, so write to Margaret Ewing and ask her to sign Linda Gilroys Early Day Motion ‘LETS and Social Inclusion‘. Your say will make a difference.

Stewart Noble

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