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Scottish Widows rejects architects for professional mortgages

Status of architects dealt a further blow after bank excludes the profession as not ‘recession-proof’ in risk underwriting criteria

In a new blow to architects’ status, one of the UK’s largest banks is refusing to give architects ‘professional mortgages’.

The AJ has uncovered that Scottish Widows, owned by Lloyds, excludes architects from its professional mortgage lending scheme, saying the career fell short of its ‘recession-proof’ criteria.

Explaining its decision, a Scottish Widows Bank spokesperson said it only accepted professions with a ‘track record of economic resilience and non-cyclical career prospects’. They added: ‘Doctors, dentists, vets and solicitors tend to be more “recession-proof” than many other skilled professions, which in turn influence our underwriting criteria.’ Architects have never been eligible for the bank’s professional mortgage product.

The Home Office also does not name architects on its 48-strong list of ‘recognised professions’ able to countersign UK passport applications. Estate agents, journalists and funeral directors are all listed as acceptable counter-signatories, however a Home Office spokesperson confirmed that the list wasn’t exhaustive and that architects could still be used as a counter-signatory.

The perceived downgrading of architects’ professional status has shocked the industry. ‘It’s just a bureaucratic nonsense to not include architects,’ said Brian Waters, former president of the Association of Consultant Architects. ‘If our signature is no good for a passport application, how can it be any good on an architect’s certificate?’

Speaking about the Scottish Widows decision Alex Scott Whitby of Studio AR said: ‘It’s scary. It’s going to be one of the big battles we have to fight.

‘It’s pretty surprising that a great client of architecture has decided we aren’t professional enough,’ Whitby added, referring to the Basil Spence-designed former Scottish Widows headquarters in Edinburgh.

Anthony Hoete of What Architecture said: ‘It seems the whole level of our profession has become less robust and no longer in a proper rank to sign [visa] admission documents.’

An RIBA spokesman it would not comment on the mortgage provider’s specification criteria, claiming it was ‘their commercial decision’, but added: ‘Despite being a highly skilled, valuable and respected profession, there is no escaping the fact that architecture, like the rest of the built environment industry is subject to wider trends in the global economy.’

 

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