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ARB rejects calls for insurance cut

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The ARB has once again refused to bring in new rules to slash the level of Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) required from small-scale practices.

During a heated debate at a meeting last Thursday, the board turned down calls for part-timers and semi-professionals to be allowed special dispensation for lower cover.

The ARB ruled that the minimum cover for all registered architects must remain at £250,000.

Architect-member Nick Tweddell - who led the arguments for the special dispensation - argued that architects who earn less than £20,000 a year in fees should be allowed lower levels of cover.

'This was an extremely important part of my manifesto and I believe it is incredibly important that we do something about this now, ' he told the meeting. 'I can't believe that we are not going to change the rules.

'There are small country architects being crippled at the moment by the rules, who have no need for such high levels, ' he added. 'I really can't see why there should not be another category for these people.'

Tweddell won the support of Ian Salisbury, a long-term thorn in the side of the board and candidate in the upcoming RIBA presidential election. 'A general rule such as this leads to a widespread disadvantage for the minority, ' he said. 'At the time that the ARB was set up, the government made it clear that it didn't want the board to interfere in PII - but here it is doing it anyway.'

However, the proposals for change were defeated. The board's chairman, Judge Humphrey Lloyd, together with other members, claimed that all architects need the higher level of cover, whatever the scale of the schemes worked on.

And lay member Alan Crane voted against the status quo, urging Lloyd and ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan to 'go for an increase' in minimum cover.

lIt has emerged that the Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has signed up to an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, calling for the government to abandon the membership extension of the ARB's Professional Conduct Committee. Other signatories include Evan Harris and Menzies Campbell.

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