"We had hoped to use the Bristol Pound where possible to support independent, local traders. But sadly, it seems we cannot support both the charities and the traders."
AN organisation set up to help save the Rainforest was disappointed to learn it could not make gift aid donations with the Bristol pound – because it is not recognised as legal tender.
Green Thumb Travel, which helps people to ‘hitch’ around the city more safely in a bid to combat climate change, found the currency could not be converted to pass onto charities.
Founders Barry Cash and Chris Herbert said they were disappointed they could not help stimulate the local economy while doing their bit for charity.
Chris, 65, of Parry’s Lane, Stoke Bishop, said: “We had hoped to donate to our chosen charities using gift aid so they could claim 20 per cent back in tax. Over time, this of course would be significant.
“We had hoped to use the Bristol Pound where possible to support independent, local traders. But sadly, it seems we cannot support both the charities and the traders.”
Green Thumb Travel, which uses a smartphone app to record vehicle registrations and destinations, gives proceeds from the scheme to three charities: Size of Wales, Orangutan Land Trust and Rainforest Saver Foundation.
But the Bank of England does not recognise local currencies as being linked to the Bank of England or to Bank of England notes.
And as the Bristol Pound is not legal tender, HMRC has said Gift Aid would not be applicable.
In an email to Barry, HMRC wrote: “A Bristol pound does not satisfy the definition of legal tender (i.e. money) and therefore Gift Aid would not be applicable.”
Barry, 65, from Fenton Road, Bishoptson, added: “We intended to allow people to pay us in Bristol Pounds then convert them to pass onto the charities. We thought this wouldn’t affect Gift Aid, but sadly we’ve been told it does.”
The Bristol Pound, which was launched in 2012, can be used to pay council tax and in independent shops around the city.
Each Bristol Pound is equivalent to one sterling pound issued by the Bank of England.
Bristol Pound’s Adam Rich said: “It is disappointing that the Bristol Pound is not currently seen as legal tender when it comes to Gift Aid – that’s the Bank of England’s rules I’m afraid.
“It is, however, eagerly accepted for council tax, business rates, energy bills, train tickets, bus fares, plumbers, bike repairs, groceries, cinema tickets, fish and chips and much, much more.
“All of this and it’s only been around 4 years – who knows what else it will be used for in the future?”
* For more information on Green Thumb Travel, visit https://greenthumb.travel/