The ARB board has voted overwhelmingly to dismiss a potential reform of the controversial public indemnity insurance (PII) regulations that would have seen the minimum cover slashed for those on very low earnings.
The proposal - recommending that the regulator's requirement for minimum PII cover for those earning less than £10,000 a year should be reduced from £250,000 to £100,000 - was rejected by the board last week as unworkable. It concluded that the cost of implementing and enforcing the new category, which would only apply to about 200 members on the register, would be prohibitively expensive.
The issue is the cause of an ongoing war of words between the ARB and the RIBA, which has long called for a relaxation of the rules.
Architect board member Ian Davidson explained that the changes were simply not realistic. 'There is nothing wrong in trying to help the very small one-man bands, but we would have to be very careful about who would qualify.'
Lay member Alan Crane added there were other reasons for turning down the proposal. 'The very small-scale practices often work with the very small contractors who, proportionally, see far more accidents on their sites. Therefore, the small practices still need high cover, ' he argued.
However, architect member John Wright defended the proposed change. He said the ARB ought to do everything in its power to help young practices. 'We should not put off young architects from trying to go it alone, 'Wright added. 'We need to lower the hurdles at every opportunity.'
The board voted nine to four against adopting the reform.