Book News: November 13th, 2008

This report from the New Economic Foundation describes how ‘timebanking’ helps build better public services.

The report presents ‘time’ as the new currency that knits communities together, promotes well-being and reduces financial pressures on public services. It argues that ‘timebanking’ is a practical tool for bringing people together to share their skills and for enabling people to be involved in shaping and producing public services. Based on principles of co-production it could revitalise schools, hospitals, public housing and even the youth justice system.

Successful ‘timebanks’ show that valuable resources already exist within public services like schools and hospitals. These resources are often untapped as people aren’t asked to give back or become involved. Co-production, in this case in the form of ‘timebanking’, is a way of involving people directly, individually and in groups, in identifying and meeting social needs. It gives people more control, helps to prevent ill-being and thereby safeguards resources for meeting needs that cannot be avoided. The challenge now is to turn the exception into the rule, to build resilience locally and to promote sustainable well-being.

The New Wealth of Time recommends that national and local government, funders and the third sector should value time as an alternative means of exchange. It should be embedded into public services to increase individual and community resilience and reduce demand on hard-pressed resources. To do this, the report recommends embedding ‘timebanking’ in services through doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, schools, housing estates and other public organisations.

Policy makers are urged to give higher priority to timebanking and other measures that build resilience and focus on people’s strengths as part of the solution to problems rather than their weaknesses.

Copies of the report are available Nef.