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Hard times push Brits to bartering

2009-02-26 06:05:21 GMT2009-02-26 14:05:21 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

Interest rates have been slashed. Governments have pumped billions into the financial system. But these residents of the London Borough of Kingston have their own approach to surviving a global recession.

Bartering.

The group - called Kutlets - meets every month, allowing members to exchange goods and services without spending hard cash.

The idea isn't new. And Kutlets is affiliated to local exchange trading system Letslinkuk, first set up in 1991.

But treasurer John Hall says it's a concept whose time has come, with membership almost doubling in the last few months;

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KUTLETS TREASURER, JOHN HALL SAYING:

"There have been a few TV programmes and people just ring up whenever there is anything in the news. They come round, they join and they stay. I'm sure it is to do with the credit crunch. Because people are saying I don't have the money, let me do some work and I'll get what I want."

Kutlets allows members to trade directly in goods, as well as in its very own currency - the Beak, with the exchange rate currently one Beak to the pound.

Each members' time is priced at ten Beaks per hour, and payment can be made via a Beak cheque, processed by the Kutlets office.

Hall says it's a system people are comfortable with, once they get used to it;

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KUTLETS TREASURER, JOHN HALL SAYING:

"The public are often a little wary, they think it's a great idea but they are a bit scared that we be a bit weird. But once they get in and do join us they find that we aren't."

John Threadgold, who trades counselling sessions on the Lets system, says there is also a community dimension to the bartering process;

(SOUNDBITE) (English) QUALIFIED COUNSELLOR AND KUTLETS MEMBER, JOHN THREADGOLD SAYING:

"It's like people coming together, keeping wealth in the community, getting to know each other, networking, actually having social support. And I just think that is what we need, with all this globalisation its almost as if everything becomes a little impersonal."

It's referred to by some members as the 'alternative economy'.

And as the global crisis deepens, it's an increasingly attractive proposition.

Peter Parker, Reuters

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