The future of the ARB is again in doubt after the government advised its board members to prepare for a periodic review
Last Thursday Richard Harral, principal architect for the Building Regulations and Standards Division at the Department for Communities and Local Government, attended the ARB board meeting to introduce board members to the process for the government’s periodic review of the body.
The spotlight on the quango, which survived a previous ‘bonfire’ of nearly 192 public bodies three years ago, will begin in February 2014 with a preliminary investigation into the purpose of the ARB and how its objectives are delivered expected to last up to three months.
This will be followed by an assessment of the organisation’s governance and accountability.
Harral confirmed that the government would consider abolishing the ARB should the periodic review find the body was not performing properly and said: ‘This process is to make sure things are fit for purpose and that they deliver.’
The ARB board also voted to approve recommendations by the DCLG to increase the tenure of board members from three years to four years, which the government department said would bring the ARB into line with other ‘Arm’s length bodies’, and would save money and resources on elections.
We are not prejudging the outcome of the periodic review
Beatrice Fraenkel, chair of the ARB, said: ‘We are not prejudging the outcome of the periodic review. In 2010 there was a review of all the regulatory bodies, which led to the bonfire of the quangos – and we were kept. All bodies live with [the threat of abolition] and rightly so – we need to be trusted and the profession needs to be confident with their regulatory body.’
In a separate item, the ARB board discussed approaching the DCLG about obtaining charitable status for the body. The advantages of charitable status would mean that the ARB would no longer pay corporation tax, and would pay no more than 20 per cent of normal business rates on the buildings they occupy. The ARB will now explore whether or not it fits the criteria to receive charitable status.