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RIBA fails to advise members as pensions crisis takes hold

The RIBA has failed to prepare any advice for its members on the pensions crisis hitting the economy, the AJ has learnt.

The institute has admitted that, unlike other professional organisations, it has no plans in place to provide practitioners with advice on the state of the pensions industry.

Triggered by government predictions that the value of private pensions could drop by up to a third next year, other professional bodies and construction associations have prepared advisory packs and best-practice guides for their members.

But the RIBA practice department told the AJ that it has 'not even considered' carrying out work of this nature. Practice director Keith Snook admitted this area was of the utmost importance to most private practitioners. 'Architects, ' he said, 'are among those small business professionals that could be hit extremely hard by this crisis.' But he said the department had failed to research the issue or draw up advice for its members.

'We have not done anything in this area because we do not think there is interest or demand from our members, ' Snook added.

Recent government statistics show that the fall of the stock market last year wiped 11 per cent off the value of the average pension fund. At the same time, increasing life expectancy caused the secretary of state for work and pensions Andrew Smith to admit that the retirement age could be increased to 70.

Pensions uptake in architecture is mixed, with most small practices relying on private pensions while larger offices employ company schemes. Both types, however, will be hit by the current problems.

RIBA director of resources and management Baz Dickson said the institute was aware of the growing problem. 'But what can we do?' he said.

'We think that this should be a private matter, not one for the institute. This is not in our charter, so it is not something for which we feel responsible.'

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