Bridges into Work? An Evaluation of Local Exchange and Trading Schemes (LETS)
Recently, the policy community has been paying particular attention to Local Exchange and Trading Schemes (LETS) as potential bridges into work for the unemployed. Up until now, however, there has only been piecemeal evidence on whether LETS are effective in this regard. In this paper, therefore, the full results of the first comprehensive evaluation of LETS are reported. In order to feed into the 'evidence-based policy-making' process, we evaluate whether LETS are effective first, as bridges into employment, second, as bridges into self-employment and, third and finally, at building reciprocal exchange networks. Our finding is that although LETS provide an indirect bridge into employment by improving employability, they are most effective as seedbeds for the development of self-employed business ventures and as vehicles for facilitating exchange beyond employment. For LETS to become more effective bridges into work for a wider range of the unemployed, nevertheless, a number of barriers to participation need to be tackled. The paper concludes by outlining how this could be achieved.
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