Welcome to the Architects Registration Board’s 2013 Annual Report. 2013 has seen a number of developments affecting the ARB with applications for registration increasing, set against a background of ongoing government commitment to effective regulation and changes to key EU legislation.
Within this context, we have continued to deliver consistently well against our key objectives -maintaining an accurate Register and raising awareness of that Register as well as maintaining standards within the profession for the benefit of the public and architects alike. In delivering our objectives, we have sought to ensure we operate in line with the five principles of good regulation. These principles are that any regulation should be transparent, accountable, proportionate, consistent and targeted where action is needed.
In 2013, we continued our work to raise awareness about the statutory Register amongst the public and other stakeholders. For homeowners, an individual’s home is often their biggest asset and we want them to be aware of the benefits of using a registered architect when undertaking work to their properties. Those in social and rented housing also encounter architects during community development and regeneration projects. For businesses too, the construction and refurbishment of premises is often a key and substantially costly consideration to which architects contribute. We believe it is crucial that we work to inform all these groups that the Register of architects exists so that they can make an informed choice.
Increased Demand in Key Areas
We have seen a noticeable increase in demand in our key areas during 2013. The total number of new admissions continues to rise with 2013 seeing 1504 new registrations. This reflects the high regard in which registered status is perceived by the profession. Also, the number of complaints proceeding to the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) increased by 17% in 2013. This rise is linked to a number of factors, but primarily an increase in complaints of a more serious nature.
The organisation has dealt with this increased workload through the use of technology, such as the online application process, and by redirecting staff resources. We continue to promote online payment of the retention fee. This automated payment process is less resource intensive, and supports our commitment to keeping the annual retention fee as low as possible. We continue to seek out efficiencies whilst remaining committed to maintaining the quality of our work.
We work with professional bodies, from architecture and the built environment, and schools of architecture, to understand the views of others. These contributions continue to inform the delivery of our key work areas and we look forward to building on these important relationships.
As the UK’s competent authority for architects, the ARB has responsibility for ensuring that the provisions set out within EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications are met. The main purpose of this legislation is to facilitate the movement of appropriately qualified individuals within Europe. The legislation was reviewed and revised between 2010 and December 2013, and may bring about changes to some of ARB’s policies and procedures. Member States have until 18 January 2016 to transpose the relevant revisions into their national legislation. We will be working on analysing and understanding the implications of the revised Directive throughout 2014.
The Government is committed to undertaking reviews of all non-departmental public bodies in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance. Consequently, in 2013 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) began initial conversations with the ARB and other interested parties about the likely format and timeframe of the periodic review. This review, which will look at the work of the ARB, will investigate whether it is in the public interest to continue statutory regulation of architects. This evaluation represents an opportunity for ourselves and our stakeholders to reflect on progress made to date as well as providing the chance to build on strengths and tackle areas of weakness in the current system.
The Board operates in line with good governance principles, holding the executive to account and reviewing the organisation’s policies and delivery against the objectives set. ARB has a responsibility to everyone who uses our services, and Parliament, to be transparent and accountable in its business operations. The Board believes transparency is very important. We have for many years held our Board meetings in public and, at the end of each meeting, we invite questions relating to matters on the agenda from those who have attended the meeting as observers.
The Board is committed to supporting the organisation through whatever changes lie ahead. Looking forward, we are keen to ensure that we use all the opportunities which arise to challenge, evolve and improve as an organisation. Our Board members and staff of 22 are a dedicated and enthusiastic team who are fully committed to working with our stakeholders to deliver effective regulation which is in the public interest. We are also appreciative of the invaluable contribution made by those appointed by the Board towards making 2013 a success.
Interim Registrar and Chief Executive
Please note Alison Carr was Registrar and Chief Executive during 2013 and Karen Holmes (Deputy Registrar) was appointed as Interim Registrar and Chief Executive in February 2014.