The Architects Registration Board is considering increasing its £30 annual registration fee, perhaps by as much as 50 per cent.
The board, which is to meet to discuss the matter on 12-13 May, recognises that the fee paid by its 30,000 members has remained the same since 1990, when it was still arcuk. Some of the money raised - potentially £450,000 if the £15 rise is implemented - may go towards the 'substantial costs' involved with printing up and posting out a new code of conduct, which it intends to do after consultation next year. The arb has a statutory responsibility to update the code each year - this time round it will pay extra attention to areas of the code relating to professional incompetence, about which it has received complaints, but which it said it still cannot make too prescriptive.
But another area requiring funds will be the board's bid, to be announced next week, to set up a 'bank' of around 20 special advisers to investigate complaints about architects. The arb is to advertise in the trade and national press next week for the new panel of recruits to comprise arb members from a range of different-sized practices with a good geographical and gender spread.
arb chair and former Equal Opportunities Commissioner for Scotland Barbara Kelly, speaking to the aj this week, said the move was to bring the arb more into line with Nolan's recommendations to be more open. 'We think it's really important that we have real expertise in here in examining complaints,' she said. 'It's the first time we've gone public in that sense to ensure we get a range of expertise. It's very important we're seen to be entirely open.'
The arb's bid to become yet more open will extend to leafleting the public and the profession on its attempts to protect the consumer, disseminating information to people overseas coming to work in this country, and putting its register on the web as 'an important tool to help the public.'
Kelly added that she was 'mindful of the fact that the organisation runs on the fees of the register', and 'was not interested in spending unnecessary monies'. 'We must balance our responsibilities about using funds effectively and efficiently,' she said.