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RIBA votes to take powers from the ARB

The RIBA’s council has voted to take on the ARB’s role following the findings of an independent report into the regulation and registration of the profession

Yesterday (8 December) the institute’s top brass confirmed its support for statutory protection of title and vowed to seize the registration role from the ARB – a move that would effectively kill off the board, which has regulated the architectural profession since 1997.

The vote comes in the wake of a new ‘independent and external’ review paper, called Rules and Responsibilities drafted by 74-year-old education specialist Christopher Ball, commissioned by the RIBA earlier this year.

RIBA President Ruth Reed said: ‘Christopher Ball’s thorough and objective report has provided evidence which confirms the RIBA’s view that the current model of regulation is unnecessarily complex and lacks transparency, fairness and freedom for the development of the profession.

‘[We] believe that while statutory protection of title should be maintained we want to thoroughly research and develop proposals for the registration of architects to be transferred from the ARB to the RIBA.’

She added: ‘The RIBA is committed to ensuring that architects maintain the highest professional standards, in order to provide maximum benefit to consumers. It is because of this commitment, and with a general election – and the potential of deregulation - looming, that the RIBA considered it timely to review whether the current model of regulation and registration of the profession could and should be improved.’

Back in September, the shadow minister for culture, promised the Conservatives would off the ARB, branding it a ‘working example’ of how some government organisations focused on self-preservation rather than ‘the public’s best interest’.

ARB’s chief executive Alison Carr said: ‘I welcomed and enjoyed by conversation with Christopher Ball. Although we do not agree with all of the detailed points he made in his reports, we take his key message to be that ARB and the RIBA must seek to work collaboratively wherever possible for the benefit of all stakeholders.

‘I entirely agree with that view.’

The vote in full:

1: The RIBA reaffirms its support for the maintenance of statutory protection of the title ‘architect’

2: The RIBA adopts a policy principle ‘to maintain protection of title and transfer the task from ARB to the RIBA’, subject to the necessary research, consultation and development of viable proposals devised

·        to protect the interests of consumers

·        to protect the interests of non-members of the RIBA as well as RIBA members

·        to accord with UK and EU legislation and directives

3: The RIBA endorses until such time as item 2 becomes implementable, the continuing practice of working collaboratively and constructively with ARB while aiming for a better division of responsibilities.

Postscript:

Ball consulted with the ARB, the Department for Communities and Local Government and others, as well as architects, on the report which looked specifically at: the way registration of the profession is currently carried out: the benefits and drawbacks of the current regulations for the consumer and the professional practitioner; and alternative sustainable models for regulation and registration.  

Readers' comments (3)

  • Although I am an abolitionist, this must be a good second best solution. The unattached are respected for their preference to stay away from the Institute, but yet needless replication between the Arb and the RIBA, particularly in the recognition of the schools, is done away with.
    Since the Arb was established, the retention fee has risen by 186% when the RPI has risen merely by 40%. Even this year, when much was said about keeping the retention fee the same as last, it has increased in real terms by 2.5% owing to the recessionary fall in the cost of living.

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  • RIBA is about Architecture; ARB, Architects. RIBA can, and should, be passionate, biased, subjective even annoying and disagreeable because that reflects the beauty of architecture. The ARB must be strict, useful, a bit dull but ultimately have your best interests at heart. How can these two desperately important roles be successfully joined without suffering loss of purpose?
    As for fees, compared to every other profession that I've so far researched, from solicitors, dentists, accountants and engineers to humble nurses and health workers, architects pay peanuts to register. And RIBA is optional.
    Let sleeping dogs lie. There are bigger things out there to worry about.

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  • An important factor in all this is the issue of protection of title - if RIBA are prepared to take this on, they have my full support. The problem with Salisbury and his fellow anti's is that they never understood that the protection of title was particularly important for this profession. So, well done RIBA and enjoy your retirement, Ian.

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