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ARB Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2020

ARB sets the requirements for joining the architects register in the UK and sets professional standards through the Code of Conduct and Practice.


The 2020 Annual Report details ARB’s work in maintaining the register, recognising qualifications so that new architects can join, and managing complaints about architects.


The report also documents progress against ARB’s ambitious agenda, including its review of competencies architects need from their initial education and training, and references preparations for further changes to the way in which ARB will recognise international qualifications, as well as plans to develop a new Continuing Professional Development scheme that is shaped by architects.

Alan Kershaw

Alan Kershaw, Chair

“2020 was a year of highly significant change for society, for the architects’ profession and for ARB as its regulator. The pandemic created huge, unexpected challenges for us all. This collided with unusually high work demands in relation to the UK’s departure from the European Union and in responding to the Grenfell tragedy.”

“Throughout the year we worked within a three-year strategic plan, published in 2019, to deliver our commitments. This report reviews our performance in 2020 against that plan, which is underpinned by overarching objectives focussed on building strong stakeholder relationships, creating a fit for purpose Register, managing the consequences of EU Exit and achieving organisational excellence.”

Read the Chair’s foreword >>>

(versus 42,547 in 2019)

qualifications prescribed

annually monitored

Architect Conduct
and Competence

formalised complaints received


Alan Kershaw

Hugh Simpson, Chief Executive and Registrar

“We need to ensure UK regulation reflects the global esteem in which UK architecture is held and the value it brings to the economy and society.”

“Our goal is to build on the achievements of 2020 and respond effectively to the challenges faced by society, the sector and the profession. Our commitment in 2021 is to listen, engage and work effectively with all those with an interest in architecture.”

Read the Chief Executive and Registrar’s look ahead to 2021 >>>

Our year

Building Safety and the Architects Act

We developed new guidelines for architects on fire and life safety, following Dame Judith Hackitt’s review Building a Safer Future, and published a Strategic Statement on Fire and Life Safety Design which set out our approach to competence standards among architects. MHCLG has also proposed changes to the Architects Act that will allow us to monitor competence as a condition of continuing registration.

Climate Change

The United Nations Environment Global Status Report in 2017 stated that construction and building account for more than 35% of global energy use and almost 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions. We published a Strategic Statement on Climate Change and Sustainability, setting out the steps we would be taking to help solve some of the challenges raised by the climate emergency.

Exiting the European Union

The terms of the UK’s exit from the EU meant there was no longer mutual recognition of qualifications, so we implemented interim arrangements for the recognition of EU qualified individuals. We provided clarity and information to the profession and our wider network on registration and worked with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland on an historic mutual recognition agreement; we’re hoping to reach agreements with other countries next year.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We concluded our three year Equality & Diversity Performance Plan and the Board agreed a new three year Strategic Statement on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Successes from the year included changing how we collect equality and diversity information so we can better understand the make-up of the Register; improving accessibility of online services; ensuring a culture of inclusion and equality across the organisation and carrying out research to understand how we might support improved access to the profession for under-represented groups.


As the world changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we issued guidance to the profession and supported institutions to ensure the integrity of qualifications was maintained. As an organisation we moved to remote working and adapted our processes to run entirely online.

Maintaining professional standards and reviewing competence

We responded to continuing changes in the built environment sector, this included issuing renewed guidance on professional indemnity insurance (PII) following a crisis in the sector and a survey of the profession, and steps that practices could take to put themselves in a better position when renewing their cover. We also began our review of the competences an architect will need in the 21 century. We collected evidence and undertook qualitative and quantitative research to get a picture of the challenges and opportunities on the horizon and what educational, training and regulatory approaches can be best employed to provide support. We’ve published the survey findings and call for evidence, and in 2021 will be sharing overall results as we engage the sector further in designing a new regulatory model.

Our EDI data


of Registered architects share EDI data with us

Architects – share your data >>>

The data ARB holds on the demographics of architects is the only data available on the profession as a whole in the UK, and it exposes concerning areas of under-representation; in 2020 only 1% of architects identified their ethnic group as Black, and only 29.6% of architects were female.

Architects are not obliged to share personal information relating to equality, diversity and inclusion, but ARB encourages them to do so, as we work to understand why the profession is not representative enough and formulate proposals to promote inclusion. Architects can check whether they have completed their EDI data online here.

“We have a long way to go before the architecture profession can be considered representative. I’m encouraging all architects to check they have shared information with us about their own characteristics. If the Board is to make targeted, impactful interventions that will genuinely assist to change the makeup of the profession, we need comprehensive data about the current profile of the profession.”

Dr Teri Okoro, Architect and Member of the Architects Registration Board