Meet the Milton Keynes community that barter their services and ignore money
They have their own 'currency' called CCs, short for concrete cows
Members of a group called MK Letnet have revealed how they save a small fortune by trading their services and skills.
The thriving community, which started 20 years ago, uses its own currency called CCs, short for concrete cows, to 'pay' each other under their own unique banking system.
They can use those CCs to 'buy' another service - anything from housework and gardening to secretarial help or building jobs.
MK Letnet chair Valerie Gommon said: "Some members offer things like ironing, sewing repairs and alterations, car maintenance, cooking and baking, fresh produce from their gardens, lifts in the car, or hire of tools and equipment.
"Therapists also offer their services – reflexology, aromatherapy, massage and shiatsu are currently offered by several members.
"Odd jobs around the house, painting, decorating, plumbing and electrical work are often requested, along with gardening, shopping, secretarial services, computer training/troubleshooting, picture framing, digital photography, small web site design, tuition in piano, tap dancing or maths, baby sitting, knitting, … the list is endless."
The value of each trade is measured is CCs, said Valerie.
"They are not physical tokens – they exist in the computer. CCs have no sterling value – all transactions are negotiable. The value is placed on it by the people trading."
Having spent CCs on a job or service, the members account is debited. It is not a 'debt' but rather a commitment to provide goods or services for the other LetNet members at some time in the future.
Once a member a earned CCs by giving a service, their account is credited and they spend it on a service or skill they need.
The group holds regular get-togethers, often having lunch in local pubs, so members can get to know each other. They welcome new members and say that everyone has something to offer.
“Most people wonder what they can offer, but it is surprising," said Valerie." You may be able to loan a ladder or strimmer, you may be able to give a lift or provide companionship for a theatre trip, bake a cake or share surplus allotment produce. We can guarantee that there will be something that you can offer!"
Her own favourite trades were buying sheep and chickens, getting tuition for her children and acquiring a bike.
"Letnet gives recognition that your skills are valuable whether you are trained, experienced, do it out of interest, as a hobby or are just plain talented."
Valerie said the system also gives people of a tight budget a chance to access a whole range of goods and services without the need for money.
"In these difficult times when many people lost their jobs or were furloughed it is good to know that there is an alternative to spending your precious cash.
"Things were obviously quieter over lockdown, but trading still was happening and members were great at looking out for each other and met up online for trading and social events. We have our first face-to-face meeting coming up when we plan to meet in a local pub/restaurant for dinner, it is a thriving social group alongside the trading and many of us have made good friends in the group."
It is currently free of charge to join, and members will receive a directory of things that members are offering and requesting.
You can visit www.mkletnet.org.uk for more details