From Panama to Paradise: break the cycle and change the system with Bristol Pounds

It seems nothing will prevent tax avoidance by the super-rich, but as Bristolians we can opt out of the system altogether.

It’s been 18 months since the scandal of the Panama Papers revealed the astonishing scale to which the super-rich hide their wealth, avoiding tax with the help of offshore law firms and accountants. As news breaks this morning of the leaked Paradise Papers, many in the UK will feel furious. Whilst ordinary people suffer crippling austerity, the rich pay huge amounts to lawyers and accountants willing to push the limits of every tax law to avoid paying the tax used for vital public services.

The Queen is embroiled in the latest tax avoidance scandal

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Birthday Treasure Hall of Winners

This week, we have lead you on a quest around the city to find treasure packets of Bristol Pounds in celebration of our 5th birthday. We hope our clues have lead you to explore the radical, alternative people and places that have helped to make Bristol such a special place to live. We tied it up last night when treasure seekers braved the rain to dig for £B100 in Castle Park. Thanks to all those who took part and congratulations to our lucky winners!

As we look to the future, we pledge to continue to be as innovative as the city we serve and to keep imagining a greener, fairer economy that serves people, not banks.

So thanks for playing Bristol – here’s the winners hall of fame:

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Bristol Pound launch city wide treasure hunt

Bristol’s local currency have this week unveiled plans to hide thirteen treasure troves containing Bristol’s money around the city. The treasure hunt, which is being held to celebrate the currency’s fifth birthday, will run from 12 – 18 September when daily clues will be released via social media to lead Bristolians to uncover prizes of up to £B100.

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Which parliamentary candidates will fight for a fairer, stronger and greener local economy for Bristol?

The Bristol Pound asks candidates for Bristol West and South how they will support a strong local economy.

The people of Bristol are gearing up for the final round of campaigns before we hit the ballot box on Thursday 8th June, and it’s a general election like no other.

The emphasis of party campaigns has been centred around important national and global concerns, but in such turbulent political times, it’s easy to lose sight of the local issues affecting the communities we know and love. Before you nail your colours to the mast, what do you really know about Bristol’s candidates’ policies on our local economy?

The UK’s economy has transformed beyond recognition over the last 30 years, from an economy centred around manufacturing to one profiting from its massive financial sector. The UK can now be seen as a playground for multi-national corporations, with the lowest corporation tax rate in the G20. The current financial system has given birth to all kinds of issues, the housing crisis being just one that has severely affected Bristol.

Whatever your political affiliation may be, the arguments for building a strong local economy are genuine; stimulating employment growth, procurement of local products without large carbon price tags and reducing inequality are just some of the things we can achieve by a fairer local economy.

I asked Bristol’s main candidates for South and West how they planned to create a fairer, stronger and happier economy in Bristol, and here’s what they said…

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The Bristol Pound text number is changing

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Good news! There is a new number now in place for when you Pay by Text, which will mean better coverage for some networks, and quicker replies. This is just one new feature that we are putting in place to improve the ease of use of Bristol Pounds. This new number is 07441 900 333. The old number will continue to work until late April 2017 after which payments and other transactions will no longer go through on that number.

So, what do you need to do?

As a personal member:

ACTION: Update the number in your phone contacts now. If you use the app, accept the incoming update.

As a business member:

ACTION: Change your Pay by Text POS sign. You should have received new POS in the post. If you have not please contact us on 0117 929 8642 or email info@bristolpound.org and we’ll arrange for it to be sent to you.

Updating the app

If you use the Bristol Pound app and do not have apps set up to automatically update, you will need to access your app store and update the app.

  • For Apple products, open the iTunes App Store and tap the Updates icon at the bottom of the screen.
  • For Android, go to the Play Store, choose My Apps & Games, find the Bristol Pound app and choose update.
  • For Windows Phone, go to the Store app, choose Settings, then choose the Check for Updates button.

Why is the number changing?

We are changing the number for several reasons:

  • to improve coverage and allow quicker confirmation texts
  • to reduce operating costs (the cost to us to send the confirmation texts)
  • to increase future functionality

Thank you for continuing to support the Bristol Pound and Bristol’s local economy. If you have any issues or queries please get in touch.

How can we make sure that more of our taxes stay in Bristol, working for the people who live here?

The council spends £350 million of public money each year. Most of this is spent with businesses outside of Bristol, including with large multi-nationals. The Panama Papers released last year made it clear that some of this ends up in tax havens overseas. What can we do to ensure that more of our taxes stay in Bristol, supporting the real economy – the local businesses and the people who live here?

Well, the obvious answer is: pay your taxes in Bristol Pounds.

Bristol City Council is committed to respending 100% of the Bristol Pounds they receive – as business rates, BID payments, market rents and council tax.

That means that if you pay your council tax in Bristol Pounds, every (Bristol) penny of it goes back out in Bristol Pounds to local, independent businesses – supporting local jobs and getting money moving around the city.

Last year 119 people paid their council tax in Bristol Pounds. That’s great! But just imagine how much wealth we could keep moving around the city if we could increase that number this coming tax year!

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So, what happens to the Bristol Pounds the Council is getting now?

Many council employees choose to take a part of their wages in Bristol Pounds. In doing this, council employees (civil servants and councillors) take on the pledge to spend more of their own money locally. Some choose to buy their lunch from an independent café, pay their energy bills or buy their groceries, some decided to buy all their gifts from independent retailers. Watch from 0:56 to hear from Councillor Carla Denyer and then council employee Elaine Ashley:

But last year, Bristol City Council got even more ambitious. They decided to use their Bristol Pounds to choose a local architect firm Alec French for some crucial renovation work on Bristol’s City Hall. This kept a significant amount of public money within our local economy, passing on a pledge for Alec French to localise their supply chains too.

Here’s what Nigel Dyke, Director of Alec French had to say on why supporting our local economy is important:

“Alec French have had a Bristol Pound account for nearly 3 years now.  Set up in 2015 as part of our response to Bristol Green Capital we have used it to localise our supply chain wherever possible.  As a local business we see this as an important part of our commitment to Bristol and our support for a great organisation contributing massively to a better city.”

Paying your council tax is an amazing way of ensuring our hard-earned taxes work for communities in Bristol and don’t leak out of the city through large multi-national companies to offshore tax havens and executive pay deals. Let’s use our money for good.

Council tax bills will be hitting doormats from next week. So you can set up your Bristol Pound payments pretty soon (and if you don’t have an account yet, there’s still time to sign up to get your payments done in Bristol Pounds).

Here’s Hannah explaining how to do it:

If you have any troubles setting up the payment, we’ve got brand new video walk-throughs available (uploaded this week!) on our YouTube page. And you can always get in touch – I’m here to help you. Email me on ruby@bristolpound.org or call me on 0117 929 8642.

Oh, and if you don’t have a Bristol Pound account yet, sign up for one now and let’s change money, for good!

Cheers all,

Ruby

5 ways to help you be a hero this Christmas – take the Bristol Pound Christmas Challenge!

There’s no denying it: ‘tis the festive season. And for many of us that means getting gifts for loved ones and gathering goodies to enjoy over the festive period. Bristol’s streets are a-buzzing with merriment.

There’s something you can do to make the season of gift-buying and goodie-gathering a whole heap more fun for you, better for Bristol AND the global economy.

Use Bristol Pounds!

Take up the challenge and spread the love this season. Switch that Sterling for beautiful Bristol Pounds, then when you go spend it you’ll be building and protecting what we all love about Bristol, and helping make our city fairer, greener and more vibrant.

Here at Bristol Pound HQ we want to make this as easy as possible for everyone so we’ve put together 5 ways to help you be a hero this Christmas. I’ve added links, so if you like what you see, give it a click to find out more:

  1. The Bristol Pound advent calendar. We’re putting together a giant advent calendar and popping it in the St Nicks Market foyer. Each day, we’ll open the next door to reveal a special deal for Bristol Pound users to help you with your shopping! What’s that? You won’t be able to join us in the St Nick’s foyer every morning throughout December? Well okay, we’ll post it up on social media each morning too! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date.
  2. The Bristol Pound Christmas market. We’re arranging a day of festivity on the 10th December at the Bristol Energy Hub on the waterfront. We’ll have: local craft and produce stalls; live music; free mince pies; Caring at Christmas are doing a wrapping service; you can win a Real Economy hamper; you can pick up the latest Bristol Pound business map and you can find out more about all the things you can do with Bristol Pounds (I can guarantee you don’t know all the things you can do with Bristol Pounds!). Plus, we’re right next to the Harbourside Market, where plenty of folk take the Bristol Pound. More info here.poster-for-christmas-market-620px 
  3. Our new Bristol Pound Map of central Bristol – more detailed than ever, stretching from Temple Meads to the Grain Barge and from Wapping Wharf to the Bear Pit, you’ll find 128 shops, pubs, cafes, hair dressers, homeware stores, florists, and much, much more. We’ll be handing them out at the market, but also sending one out to every Bristol Pound member.img_20161122_122219
  4. Indies in Bristol – a brand-new, city-wide event to celebrate Bristol’s amazing independent businesses and encourage Bristolians to shop local for Christmas. The main hub is in the Station courtyard (The Old Fire Station) in the city centre, where a central traders market of gifts, street food and a bar will be based. We’ll have a Bristol Pound ‘bank’ at the entrance of the event for your to switch to Bristol Pounds. Plus, we’re also doing a talk at 12.45. See you there! More info here.indies-in-bristol-poster-web-620px 
  5. Bristol Pound Trail – as part of the Indies in Bristol event, we’ve put together a pretty special little trail for you to follow – it’s a neat little trip in and around St Nick’s Market. Start at Beast Clothing to pick up your Bristol Pounds (they’re a ‘cash point’) – you can switch Sterling notes, pay on card or withdraw from your Bristol Pound account. Then visit a bunch of businesses waiting to give you discounts and offers if you use Bristol Pounds! More info here.bristol-pound-trail-banner-620px 

It’s easier than ever to do the Bristol Pound Christmas Challenge this year – so let’s change our money, change the world and have ourselves a jolly good time doing it.

Adam and the Bristol Pound team