A SCOTTISH town is thought to be the first in the country to introduce its own “local currency”.
St Andrews is Fife is set to launch the Saint Exchange – a scheme where residents ditch cash and trade with each other using goods and services.
For example if a painter decorated the bedroom of a plumber then the plumber would carry out the equivalent value of maintenance work in return.
The project is run by Transition, an organisation dedicated to making communities greener – and is also funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.
It is hoped Saint Exchange – due for launch on April 6 – will encourage people to support local businesses and lead to a self-sustainable community.
Transition explained people sign up to the scheme and pledge to share goods and services with other members.
They are then issued with a “chequebook” and when a transaction occurs they write down the details of the exchange and drop it into Transition officials or log it online.
They can then “redeem” the slip for services based on the value on what they provided themselves.
Alistair MacLeod, spokesman for Transition, said: “This local currency scheme is really great for people who have been affected by the economic downturn and now find themselves with less money in their pocket to pay for much needed goods or services.
“It means they can swap goods with each other and people can learn to provide for each other and not rely on outside help – or even cash.”
However Transition acknowledged that while people are obliged to fulfil their agreements there is no legal obligation as it is a “social contract”.
Mr MacLeod added: “This system is based on trust. All we can do as organisers is make sure that people agree to offer goods and services after they have benefited themselves.
“It’s more of a social contract than a legal one but we can’t have people taking and taking without giving anything back.
“If that does happen we will approach the relevant people involved and work out an arrangement and take it from there.”
The Scottish Government said they supported St Andrews’ local currency scheme.
A government spokeswoman said: “The Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) has captured the imagination of local communities, producing many innovative ideas and projects like the Saint Exchange.
“The CCF is a great way of supporting behaviour change that helps drives down carbon emissions to ensure a more sustainable Scotland becomes a reality.”
The scheme is free to join and will be officially launched at a coffee morning on April 6 in the Victory Memorial Hall in St Andrews between 11am and 1pm.
The event will provide an opportunity to find out more about the programme and how to join – more information is available at www.saint-exchange.org.uk.