Glasgow citizens’ assembly drops idea for tax to retrofit over 400,000 homes

It is estimated the bill for retrofitting the Glasgow homes would cost around £11 billion.It is estimated the bill for retrofitting the Glasgow homes would cost around £11 billion.
It is estimated the bill for retrofitting the Glasgow homes would cost around £11 billion. | Shutterstock
A Glasgow citizens’ assembly on the climate emergency has dropped an idea to roll out a tax to pay for retrofitting over 400,000 homes — but has made 15 recommendations on tackling the crisis.

Set up by Glasgow City Council and run by market research firm Ipsos MORI, more than 50 residents, picked to reflect the city’s population, took part in the assembly.

Members’ top recommendation was that the council should “immediately set out a road map for how Glasgow will adapt to the green economy”, showing the opportunities for training, education and jobs.

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Other priorities were an education system which teaches children about the skills needed for a low-carbon future, raising awareness over required home energy measures, such as retrofitting, and encouraging supermarkets, suppliers and shops to “play their part”.

During the process, members came up with the idea of a tax specifically for retrofitting homes. It is estimated it would cost around £11 billion to transform homes in the Glasgow City Region into energy efficient properties.

Across the region, a total of 428,000 properties are currently below the Energy Performance Certificate rating of C, where A is the best and G is the worst.

Retrofitting would involve upgrading the insulation and energy efficiency of old homes, and is key to reaching net zero targets.

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The tax suggestions was “met with mixed views during the deliberation phase and was prioritised low overall” by the assembly.

A report on the assembly’s findings states: “Over two-thirds of the assembly — 35 of 50 members — ranked the tax on retrofitting as their 15th or 16th priority out of 16, and only five members ranked it in their top 10 priorities.

“The impact of such a tax on reducing the city’s carbon emissions was perceived as limited. It has therefore not been included in the final set of recommendations as it did not receive sufficient support from members.”

Members did decide the council should increase financial support to households to decarbonise. They also recommended the council should improve waste and recycling management and training for a green economy should be subsidised by governments and businesses.

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And the assembly wants to see a ‘circular economy district’ established in Glasgow to help people access reuse and repair shops.

Five online sessions were held over three weeks in August with participants chosen to reflect “the demographic diversity of the Glasgow population”.

Assembly members heard from expert speakers who provided information on a range of issues associated with climate change.

The council wanted to “hear from people living across Glasgow to understand how the city can work together to achieve net zero in a way that is inclusive, fair and respectful to everyone”.

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Invitations were sent to 10,000 randomly selected homes in Glasgow, with recipients asked to register an interest in taking part.

A “random sample was selected for the assembly using quotas to ensure the assembly was broadly reflective of the Glasgow population”.

Initially, 55 people were recruited but, after some dropped out, there were 50 members for the first session. The final session saw 51 members join.

Councillors will be asked to agree the recommendations next week, which will be incorporated into work on a Glasgow Green Deal.

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Lower priority recommendations included re-purposing derelict land or unused spaces, enforcing home energy improvements among private landlords and educating people on cutting down on meat and dairy to promote a “shift towards a healthier low-carbon diet”.

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