Hull Council -- an organisation which, by its own admission, is suffering from 'breathtaking reductions' in funding -- has had a root around the bottom of the discarded policy drawer, and come up with its magic plan to solve all economic woes: its very own version of Bitcoin, lovingly dubbed HullCoin.
The idea of HullCoin is to reduce poverty: struggling residents will perform unspecified 'volunteer' work, for which they'll then be rewarded with HullCoin. Their shiny crypto-coins, in turn, can apparently be used to pay for items at the food bank, or even rent or council tax.
Technologically, HullCoin will function much like any other crypto-currency (it's made from a mashup of Feathercoin and Ven). The council will mine it, using what's basically a pimped-out gaming computer, and then the lucky recipients will get their currency in a wallet -- much like Bitcoin.
While it seems like a lovely idea -- do volunteer work, don't have to pay council tax -- it's not going to magically solve Hull's financial woes. If someone's not paying their council tax in good 'ole British pounds, that means Hull Council will be out of pocket at little -- meaning, basically, the council might as well just pay the volunteers in cold hard cash, because it'll have exactly the same effect on their bottom line, and the same effect on the local economy. In effect, Hull Council is printing money.
There's also the cost of setting up a brand-new crypto-currency -- presumably not insignificant -- and paying for the hardware for the council's shiny coin-mining rig. The council have said that it was bought by an anonymous benefactor, not with taxpayer money; but still, that's cash that could've gone on something useful, instead of being pissed down some kind of vanity-PR-stunt gone wrong.
And yes, I know it's April Fools' tomorrow, and yes this could potentially be a prank --b but if it is, it's a bloody well-made one: all the council employees quoted in the article do seem to be real people, the 'Hull Finanical Inclusivity Forum' where it was launched was a real event, and there's even a Twitter handle. Doesn't stop me from wishing it was an April Fools' joke, though. [Telegraph, CoinDesk]