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ARB 23% fee hike provokes anger

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A storm of protest has blown up after the Architects Registration Board voted unanimously to approve the £18.50 rise in the retention fees it levies on architects to remain on its mandatory register

Architects have reacted angrily after the Architects Registration Board approved a 23 per cent retention fee hike last week.

The dramatic escalation followed a ‘significant increase’ in costs relating to misuse of title and complaints referred to the Professional Conduct Committee which threatened to breach the organisation’s minimum cash reserves level.

The fee increase from £80 to £98.50 for next year kicked up a storm of protest from architects, who complained others should pay for policing misuse of title.

John Kellet of KR.eativ: Architects said: ‘It is rather a poor deal if the increased ARB registration fee is for architects to finance the criminal prosecution of fraudsters. Criminal prosecutions should be paid for by the Crown Prosecution Service and from fines imposed.’

Nick Willson, of Nick Willson Architects, asked whether the increase would see practices which currently pay their staff’s retention fees shift the burden to workers, and whether ARB-registered architects would find it harder to secure employment.

Joe Morris, of Duggan Morris Architects, blasted the move as ‘extremely inappropriate’ in an ‘era of austerity and spending cuts where the very viability of successful practice lies in the balance for so many architects’.

Last year’s Manser Medal winner and a finalist this year, Morris said it raised ‘serious questions’ about ARB’s purpose, particularly with regards to the RIBA’s ‘diminishing role’ and ‘extortionate’ rates.

A heated debate erupted on the AJ LinkedIn forum, with architects criticising the way the surge in misuse of title prosecutions, which went up 36 per cent in 2011, had influenced the fee hike.

ARB chairwoman Beatrice Fraenkel said failing to increase the retention fee would have a ‘severely detrimental effect on our ability to deliver our statutory duties under the Architects Act.’


LinkedIn debate

John Kellet of KR.eativ: Architects
It is rather a poor deal if the increased ARB registration fee is for architects to finance the criminal prosecution of fraudsters. Criminal prosecutions should be paid for by the Crown Prosecution Service and from fines imposed.

Michael Spicer orRead Spicer Architecture
Prosecutions for persistent misuse of title are rare and ARB has a very high success rate of curtailing wrongful use by correspondence. Prosecutions may or may not be falling, but what is certain is the success of dealing with an increasing number of reported breaches. Increased reporting, particularly of the use of meta tags in web-sites, has undoubtedly involved more ARB resource in investigating those reports.

Alan Warren ofArchitectural and Landscape Design Associates
On one hand we want the title protected and on the other moan about the cost. £20 is a pittance.
More worrying is rising complaints. Many architects are not being paid enough to do the work properly in the first place. It may also involve low morale and sense of worth.

Linaka Greensword of Ramboll
Perhaps with the governments boost to self-build housing the ARB are predicting an increase in abusers of titles?

Norman Webber of Cound Webber Architects
I don’t think £20 is a cause for mass resignation, but it is beholden upon the ARB to look very carefully at its costs and to recognise its responsibilities to the profession at a difficult time for the construction industry as a whole. Both [ARB and RIBA] need to recognise the particular pressures placed upon small practices and their principals at the moment.

James Francis of Ingenium Archial
Right, I’m not being funny but the increase is large in percentage terms but under £20 pounds a year. That’s less than the cost a round of four drinks. There are bigger issues to get hung up on, like the job market and quality of architectural education.

Conservation Architect Eva Papakostantinou
I would happily give away this amount if I knew ARB did something towards the direction of integrating European architects to the British system. But now this will be the third year of paying just to hold the title without any income…


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