The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is set to ask architects for more money to tackle the increasing number of firms illegally calling themselves architects
The ARB said that a sample study showed that there are now an estimated 7,500 cases of individuals falsely claiming they are architects.
In response, it proposes to employ a full-time member of staff to ‘promote the register’, and create an administrative post to deal with any uplift in the resulting caseload. The ARB is proposing to add £2 to next year’s retention fee to help pay for the two new posts.
A report to the ARB said: ‘There is an expectation from among both public and profession that ARB is the body for ensuring, as far as it can, that those looking to use an architect can do so with the reasonable assurance that they are using a properly qualified, experienced person.
‘If there is an insufficient awareness of the register, and no effective means of regulating those who use the title, then all the other work of ARB is arguably rendered pointless.’
The ARB has rejected an approach that would have used the additional resource to proactively look for misuse of title cases, and be more robust in prosecuting offenders.
The report said this was because ‘simply increasing the levels of case management and prosecutions would be an inefficient use of resource, but that additional money committed to raising awareness of the register would be to the benefit of the public and the profession.’
The report said: ‘Feedback from the profession is that architects expect ARB to act strongly in this area, and would be willing to tolerate an increase in their retention fee if they knew it was to be committed to the protection of their hard-earned title.’
Under Section 20 of the Architects Act 1997, only those on the ARB register are legally permitted to use the name, style or title containing the word ‘architect’ in the course of business or practice.
In addition to those illegally promoting themselves as architects directly, mislistings on online directories ‘are now likely to stretch into the tens of thousands’, according to the ARB.
Previous attempts to increase the impact of the register ‘have not enjoyed sustained success because of a lack of a dedicated resource to maintain initial momentum,’ the report added.
The board will consider the proposals on Tuesday (11 September).