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  • ARB reserves to help fund strategic projects to address “major challenges of 2021”
  • Retention fee to rise for 2021, to £119 a year
  • Cheques and cash payments to be stopped as a COVID-19 safety measure

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has announced a major investment programme to address a host of regulatory, industry and consumer protection issues for 2021, resulting in a smaller than expected increase in its 2021 annual retention fee.

The fee increase is the first in two years. The 2021 retention fee will rise to £119 for the year, compared to £111 a year in 2019 and 2020. The fee is ARB’s main source of funding for its regulatory activities, although it can divert funds from its mandatory reserves, minimising impact on the fee while responding to unbudgeted expenditure demands. This is what is now planned for 2021.

ARB will use reserves to deliver key strategic projects that are required on top of its regular statutory duties. These include:

  • Supporting architects and other stakeholders through the regulatory changes of EU Exit.
  • Supporting schools of architecture and architects with guidance on standards relating to the Building Safety legislation and policies on tackling the climate emergency.
    Continuing its wide ranging research to inform the review of the competences required to join and remain on the Architects Register.
  • Initiating improvements to the policies and systems which underpin the prescription process – the way ARB recognises the UK qualifications that provide access to the Register.
  • Completing a review of ARB’s professional conduct processes and systems to further improve consumer protection standards and uphold the reputation of the profession.
  • Improving the online Register to help make it easier for potential clients to confirm whether someone is a genuine architect and make an informed choice about who to hire for their project.
  • Updating cyber security and IT infrastructure, and investing in new digital systems that improve access to ARB and will meet the demands of post-COVID working practices.

Marc Stoner, Acting Chief Executive and Registrar of ARB, said:

We can already see that the next year is going to be a period of huge change, investment and improvement for ARB, and we are committed to supporting architects, schools of architecture, the public and our many other stakeholders through the major challenges we all expect to face in 2021.

“We are anticipating important regulatory changes and the inevitable costs these will bring, not least preparing for EU Exit, ensuring the profession is supported in meeting new fire and life safety and sustainability design standards, and reviewing our systems for educational and professional standards.

“In addition we will be continuing the very important review of competences required to join and remain on the Architects Register, analysing and addressing the excellent input that we have already received to our Call for Evidence and the thousands of responses sent in by architects to the current survey.

“Digital investment and more efficient ways of working will both help to save money in future and improve everyone’s experience of working with ARB. To help protect personal privacy, we are updating our arb.org.uk website to use HTTPS for secure connections. All of these changes have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2021 will see us ramp up our activities to ensure we continue to provide effective, proportionate and supportive regulation.

Alan Kershaw, Acting Chair of ARB, said:

Regulators have to take many tough decisions in the course of a year, so the Board’s decisions about the retention fee and investment plans have been very carefully considered. We are making every effort to balance the impact on the profession with the requirements of delivering our statutory duties, in the face of accelerating change, major regulatory pressures and uncertain economic conditions.

“Over previous years we have been able to limit fee rises but, as more is asked of ARB, we must increase our income to deliver effective regulation and regulatory support for the profession. I’m glad we have been able to use reserves to keep that increase significantly lower than we first thought. We will ensure this money is well spent to deliver tangible benefits to architects and the public.

ARB has also announced that it will no longer accept payment of fees by cash, cheques, banker’s drafts or postal orders, as part of COVID-19 related safety measures, with all architects urged to move towards Direct Debit, online or telephone payments instead.

Those architects who are no longer practising and do not wish to remain on the Register will need to advise ARB before the fee payment deadline of 31 December 2020.

ARB would encourage any architect who finds themselves in particularly difficult circumstances to approach the Architects Benevolent Society, which it supports every year. The Society provides public benefit through financial help and other assistance to past and present members of the wider architectural profession and their dependants.

—ENDS—

Notes for Editors

o The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest.

o Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:

– Maintain the Architects Register
– Prescribe the qualifications needed to become an architect in the UK
– Issue a code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of architects
– Investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence
– Investigate and where appropriate prosecute unregistered individuals who unlawfully call themselves an architect
– Act as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects

o ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one independent, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.

o In the UK, an individual must join the Architects Register in order to legally call themselves an architect. Architects pay an annual retention fee by 31 December the preceding year in order to remain registered in the New Year. Further information about the retention fee can be found in our dedicated FAQs. The fee is ARB’s main source of income for funding its regulatory activities. ARB is able to charge for a small number of other activities which it currently does on a ‘users pay’/cost recovery basis only. Money raised from misuse of title and architect disciplinary fines are paid to the HM Treasury, not ARB.

o Fees in previous years: 2014 – £105, 2015-2018 – £107, 2019-2020 – £111.

o ARB has an Information Pack detailing its key messaging intended for use by the press and other stakeholders.

For further information please contact Kate Howlett (ARB Communications Manager) on 020 7580 5861 or by email at media@arb.org.uk.

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