The Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) and partners Karbon Homes, Thirteen Group, Yorkshire Housing, Salix Homes, and First Choice Homes Oldham have launched a first of its kind Tenants’ Jury to understand how tenants, social housing providers and others can work together to tackle climate change in our homes and neighbourhoods.
The Jury will bring together a representative and inclusive group of social housing tenants to learn from and question invited experts, undertake personal and group reflection, where possible reach consensus, and deliver a mandate for action that can be taken up by the sector at large.
The Challenge to the Social Housing Sector
Homes account for around ¼ of the North’s carbon emissions. To meet the challenge of net zero, the NHC estimates over one million social rented sector homes across the North will require green upgrades.
However, retrofit is not just about making emissions targets, it is about delivering positive social and climate outcomes to ensure all residents can live in a warm, sustainable home. It is essential residents have a say so that their homes are refurbished according to their needs and aspirations.
A Climate Jury?
The Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury is a concept adapted from Citizens’ Juries and Assemblies, a ‘deliberative democracy’ approach for making decisions. Participants are selected at random to deliberate and seek consensus on a set issue, before producing a set of recommendations for policymakers.
In recent years Citizens’ Juries have become a popular way to include the public on the question of how best to tackle climate change. 2020 saw the House of Commons convene the national ‘Climate Assembly UK’ where 108 people from all walks of life met for six weeks to answer the question “how should the UK meet its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050?”. At a local level Climate Juries have been held in Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford, Cambridge, Devon, Kendal, and seven London Boroughs.
Typically juries have the following features:
- A Citizens’ Jury is commissioned by a sponsoring body and undertaken by a ‘deliberative democracy provider’, the jury is tasked with deliberating an overarching question and producing recommendations.
- An Oversight Panel is formed of key stakeholders to ensure a robust and fair process. The Oversight Panel agrees the overarching question to be deliberated and the composition of experts to give evidence to the jury.
- 20 to 40 citizens are selected by a random process to ensure a diversity of demographic criteria (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, etc.).
- Citizens are paid a small fee for participating over a period of several days, anywhere from 2 to 9 sessions are held in total.
- Citizens hear evidence, ‘cross-examine’ selected experts, and deliberate on the chosen overarching question. Topics which have been considered by Citizens’ Juries or Assemblies in addition to climate change include the future of town centres, reducing congestion, and wider consideration of jobs, pay, and quality of life.
- At the end of the process citizens produce recommendations in the form of a report; the commissioning body is expected to respond to the recommendations.
The Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury
The Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury will see 30 social housing tenants from across the North meet online over 10 weeks between July and September 2021.
The Jury will explore tenants’ views on retrofit, their opinions of specific measures, and their preferences for how these kinds of interventions should be undertaken in their homes and neighbourhoods. They will also have the chance to say what information they need before, during, and after the retrofit process to use low carbon heating technology confidently.
In the final weeks of the Jury, participants will work together alongside expert facilitators to develop recommendations that will put forward their preferences, as social housing tenants, as to how tenants, social housing providers, and others can work together to tackle climate change in our homes and neighbourhoods?
The findings of the Jury will be presented at the Northern Housing Summit on the 2nd and 4th of November.