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Timebanking Types

Timebanking is a means of exchange used to organise people and organisations around a purpose, where time is the principal currency.  For every hour participants ‘deposit’ in a timebank, perhaps by giving practical help and support to others, they are able to ‘withdraw’ equivalent support in time when they themselves are in need. In each case the participant decides what they can offer. Everyone’s time is equal, so one hour of my time is equal to one hour of your time, irrespective of whatever we choose to exchange. Because timebanks are just systems of exchange, they can be used in an almost endless variety of settings.

Traditionally these settings have been divided into three categories:

1) Person-person

These might be ‘standalone’ timebanks, perhaps in a local community, where residents might organise social action using the principles of an hour for an hour. This might typically see a timebank member earning a time credit by doing the shopping for an elderly member of the timebank, and then spending that time credit on getting somebody else to provide baby-sitting support at a time when they are busy.

2) Person-agency

This model might see organisations using timebanking as a tool for achieving their own outcomes and goals. In this instance, the timebank might be interwoven into the fabric of the organisation, so that their own activities can be organised through a system of time exchange. For example, a hospital might wish to provide a home-care service for patients who have left the acute care setting but are still in need of support –perhaps somebody with a broken leg for example. The hospital would then organise the informal support needed, such as help with cooking meals, doing shopping or running basic errands, using a timebank to incentivise the giving of help rather than paying professionals in the traditional manner.

3) Agency-agency

Timebanks can also work between organisations, as a system for trading assets and resources. Organisations, such as local businesses or public sector agencies, might place access to some of their resources into the timebank. This might be the use of a minibus or sports hall, or particular skills that they have such as graphic design or legal advice. Organisations in the timebank can then share, trade and exchange resources based on the hour for an hour principle.

A false distinction?

In reality however, timebanks are most sustainble when these artificial boundaries are withdrawn, and the three models are brought together. In that way, people, organisations and public services can be brought together in timbanking marketplaces where skills, support and physical assets can be exchanged in an equitable manner.

Department of Work and Pensions updated statement
November 2015


November 2015

Claimants involved in ‘timebanking’, or ‘time-exchange schemes’ are regarded as making a positive contribution to the community and are encouraged to do so, although the requirements for being available for work and actively seeking employment still apply. Whilst timebanking is not the same as volunteering, the giving and receiving of time is acknowledged as recognition of positive activity to help others and themselves. Timebanking is the exchange of time where everyone’s time is equal regardless of the actual activity involved, therefore it is not classed as bartering. It is reciprocal and informal with local people helping others in the community in a way that they find enjoyable and rewarding. No money changes hands in timebanking and for benefit purposes claimants are not considered to be in remunerative work.  However, claimants must till be able to meet the other conditions of entitlement such as being available or actively seeking work. Any participation in timebanking must be declared immediately to DWP. Timebanking UK (TBUK) is the national membership charity that provides advice, guidelines, training and resources to assist with the setting up and development of community time banks across the UK. 30,000 people are currently involved along with 3700 organisations. To find your nearest time bank or to find out more go to

Whilst volunteering is similar to timebanking, volunteering is described as an unpaid activity where someone gives their time to help an organisation or an individual who they are related to.

TBUK have an asset based philosophy and have evidence to show that people undertaking timebanking exchanges benefit from their involvement by increased self-esteem and self-confidence which can lead to the person undertaking more formal volunteering or training courses. Time banks across the UK have reported that it is an excellent way to also lead to paid employment. Time banks can provide character references and support for those wanting to improve their skills for returning or joining the working population.

By creating mutual practical and social support networks, timebanking brings people together in communities and values the assets that everyone has. TBUK has a working declaration and safeguarding guidelines to ensure best practice of its member time banks.

Labour Market Strategy | Department for Work & Pensions | Caxton House, London

Daily Jobseeker Article


Time banking – help others and help yourself at the same time

Fancy spending an hour washing someone’s car, doing some housework or gardening for them – and then getting that hour back from somebody else in a way that helps you? If so, time banking could be for you.

Time banking is growing nationally and can give you the chance to help others and help yourself at the same time. For every hour of time you give helping someone in your community you receive one time credit. You can then ‘spend’ that time credit when you need help from someone else. Best of all there is no regular commitment – you can choose when you get involved and gain time credits.

This could really help with your jobseeking as there may be time banking members that can help to give you advice with your job applications and CVs – or even to practice interview questions. Others may have IT skills they can pass on to you, or help you improve the appearance of your CV. There could be people who are self-employed who could offer ideas and advice if you are thinking of setting up your own business – or just someone you can sit and talk with if you feel your job search is going round in circles.

Don’t feel you haven’t got anything to offer as everyone can do something. You may not have some plumbing skills that mean you could offer to fix dripping taps, but you could walk a dog or two, help out at a local community event or even do some. It could also help to increase your skills at some tasks, build your confidence with people and get to know them and you’ll feel good about helping your local community. What’s more, doing voluntary work like this always looks good on your CV.

If you are claiming Universal Credit or other benefits and are required to look for work for 35 hours a week, this can count towards that time – but make sure you speak to your work coach about it first.

Timebanking UK is the national charity that supports time banks.

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