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Industry reaction: ‘Never a good time’ for ARB fee hike

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An architect has called on the ARB to stagger a planned 20 per cent increase to annual retention fee

Simon Hatcher of Hatcher Prichard Architects said it was ‘never a good time’ for the ARB to be increasing its cost to practitioners, acknowledging the past four years’ frozen and reduced fee levels had ‘helped’ his practice.

The ARB annual retention fee is set to increase from £80 to £98.50. The sharp climb comes as the statutory regulator fears it will breach its minimum reserve limits at some point this year.

Hatcher called on the ARB to stagger the planned 2013 increase rather that see it dealt in one blow.

Alfred Munkenbeck of Munkenbeck and Partners meanwhile said: ‘ARCUK used to perform the functions allocated to ARB for about 1/4th of the cost.  The problem is simply that ARB still takes on too many endeavours well beyond what was asked of them by Parliament.  

‘They, therefore, have too much staff, overly plush offices, spend too much on legal advice and send too many people on fact finding missions around the world.

Consumers do not need £3m per year of protection from potential rogue architects

‘If they relied more on the RIBA for education, for example, their costs would reduce considerably as they perform a redundant exercise with less ability.’

He added: ‘My personal view is that they should be gradually reducing their costs, not increasing them. Consumers do not need £3m per year of protection from potential rogue architects.’

Stanhope Gate principal Alireza Sagharchi said: ‘In the scheme of things and all the tax hikes and various expenses and other burdens put on businesses, this is a modest increase.

‘To put it in context, the BBC licence fee is more expensive than a licence to practice as an architect’.

Other comments:

Simon Allford from AHMM:
‘As ARB is an anomaly bought into being through misjudgement and worse still a costly one that achieves little to nothing I see no reason why we should pay anything let alone more. Perhaps now is the time for mass resignation and the promotion of the RIBA which at least has an interest in the culture of architecture.

Perhaps now is the time for mass resignation

For those who worry about protection of title I would note that no client has ever enquired if I am registered with ARB.’

Jerry Tate of Jerry Tate Architects:
‘Is the increase coming at a good time? No, but this is not the largest issue a practice needs to contend with. While we appreciate ARB trying to keep costs down if this means they then need to urgently raise fees by a large amount then it would have been easier to have small increases spread out over a few years.’

Holder Mathias senior partner Peter Gamble said: ‘ARB should take a close look at its cost base, much the same way as the rest of the architectural profession is having to. Increases of this kind are unacceptable in the current climate.’

Weston Williamson director Chris Williamson said: ‘The increases haven’t come at a great time but all things considered ARB is good value for what we get out of it – even with the increases.’

Stride Treglown director Dominic Eaton said: ‘I cannot get upset, or concerned, over an increase of £18.50 to the ARB fees, which equates to 38p per week. I know there is the “look after the pennies….” point of view, but I have awful lot of issues to worry about that in comparison puts this increase into perspective.’

He added: ‘Through my 27 years of being a qualified architect, I pay my subs so that I can call myself an architect, and that’s very important to me, and well worth an extra 38p a week.’

Colin Munsie of Colin Munsie Associates said: ‘In these times of economic crisis we are faced with a proliferation of cases where business leaders in key organisations put their salaries up and gain bonuses on incentive schemes, whilst at the same time adding cost to the account of their customers. Customers who most likely cannot pass these sums on because they are at the bottom of the economic ladder.  Is that leadership?  Is it fair? Are we all in this together?

‘We note for example that in the 2012 ARB budget the committee recommended salaries to go up 3% and at the same time it advised of a share, an additional amount to be added due to an incentive scheme.  

‘Surely the fact that the ARB workforce of 21 people generates a salary expenditure of £1,251,760 at an average of £59,507 per person is more than enough?  In relation to the last RIBA fees survey this per person sum is far greater than the average income that most salaried architects receive.  There are virtually no pay scales for architects below senior level in the UK that reach these figures.  Where is the money going?  Does this suggest that the ARB staff/executives are overpaid?  

‘If my quick research regarding the salary expenditure is on the mark, perhaps the ARB fees ought to be going down not up.’



  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Paul McGrath

    Describing the ARB as a 'statutory regulator' is wholly wrong. The UK Parliament requires of the ARB to keep a register, prescribe the qualifications needed to become an 'architect' and promote and maintain a code of professional conduct. It does not regulate anything. Its only purpose is to deliver the responsibilities given to it under the Architects Act.

    All these increasing peripheral 'costs' to being professional must be passed on to the consumer - at least to some extent - so how does this demonstrate to potential clients using an architect will keep fees competitive? In a small but significant way, cost increases like this only serve to put pressure on wage deflation.

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