Joint Message from our Chair & Registrar and Chief Executive

We believe that a challenge can also present an opportunity.  In a period of organisational and political change we remained committed to finding ways to continue to deliver efficient yet effective regulation that supports architects and protects users and potential users of architects’ services.

We believe that a challenge can also present an opportunity.  In a period of organisational and political change we remained committed to finding ways to continue to deliver efficient yet effective regulation that supports architects and protects users and potential users of architects’ services.

The Periodic Review

In March 2017 we welcomed the then Department for Communities and Local Government’s, now Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG), Periodic Review Report which reaffirmed the ARB’s role as regulator of the profession and the UK’s competent authority. The Report made a number of recommendations to enable the Board to serve the public, architects and their clients even more effectively. These included reducing the size of our Board, moving to a structure where the Chair as well as its lay and architect members are appointed, reviewing complaint handling procedures and exploring office location options.

During 2017 we took steps in reaction to these recommendations. The current Board responded to the MHCLG’s request to provide feedback on the merits of a Board size of nine or 11 members. The MHCLG subsequently confirmed that we will move to a Board of 11 members, including an independent appointed chair. We understand the legislation required for the change to our Board will be in place by October 2018.

Our Professional Standards Department undertook a pre-consultation on its statutory obligations to investigate complaints about architects and a public consultation on the proposed changes is planned for later in 2018.

Recommendations were also made in relation to the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive which sets the minimum standards for freedom of movement and impacts the routes to registration as an architect in the UK. We have embraced these recommendations and are committed to undertaking them once we know what arrangements will apply to this legislation once the UK has left the EU. The UK system is known and trusted globally and we recognise there is minimal value in revising it at a time when negotiations are underway with Member States.

Criteria and Procedures Review

In July 2017 our Board agreed to commence ‘business as usual’ reviews of its criteria and procedures for the prescription of qualifications, which are used to ensure individuals hold appropriate qualifications and practical training experience upon entry to the Register. Two separate Task and Finish Groups were established in September and a range of stakeholders from across the UK were engaged in a pre-consultation exercise that concluded in October 2017. Recommendations based on the results of the consultation were presented to the Board in November 2017 and will form the basis of revision proposals. We will build on this foundation by continuing to engage with our stakeholders throughout the ongoing process of review. Consultations are planned for later in 2018 and we intend to explore the possibility for working with RIBA to try and ensure we continue to hold a set of criteria in common.

Raising Awareness of the Register

We are pleased to report that the Register continues to grow, increasing by 4% from 38,511 at the end of 2016 to 39,987 architects at the end of 2017.

Consumer confidence in the profession is integral to our work and across 2017 engagement with the Register also grew by 9% compared to 2016, to 310,000 website sessions (a user’s discrete interaction with a website, typically until there is 30 minutes of inactivity).

%

increase in engagement with the Register

Accessing the Register supports consumers in making an informed choice about the individual they use for their building project. During the year we encouraged local authorities to link to ARB from their websites which led to over 100 local authorities adding links to the Register of Architects. Referrals from gov.uk websites like this not only increase our reach with domestic customers considering a building project but can improve our site’s status with search engines, enhancing our overall exposure online. We continue to encourage architects to use the ARB logo to set themselves apart from unregulated providers of architectural services by highlighting their registered status, and downloads of the logo reached 3,623 by the end of 2017 – an increase of 29% from the previous year. Towards the end of the year we also launched a new online complaints tool for reporting evidence of misuse of title which will assist the public in raising their concerns with us.

%

increase in ARB logo downloads

Withdrawal from the EU

In 2016 the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU). The requirements of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, intended to facilitate the movement of appropriately qualified individuals within Europe, will remain in force until Government negotiations determine what arrangements will apply once the UK has left the EU. Throughout 2017 we refreshed the FAQs published on our website and continued to provide relevant and timely information to Government. We dedicated staff time to exploring post-Brexit scenarios, and will continue to follow matters closely over the coming year. Outside Europe, under the guidance of the Government, we are exploring the strategic appetite for developing Mutual Recognition Agreements with non EU-countries. The Board also held a development day to discuss amongst other things, Brexit and its potential ramifications for the work of ARB.

Withdrawal from the EU

In 2016 the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU). The requirements of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, intended to facilitate the movement of appropriately qualified individuals within Europe, will remain in force until Government negotiations determine what arrangements will apply once the UK has left the EU. Throughout 2017 we refreshed the FAQs published on our website and continued to provide relevant and timely information to Government. We dedicated staff time to exploring post-Brexit scenarios, and will continue to follow matters closely over the coming year. Outside Europe, under the guidance of the Government, we are exploring the strategic appetite for developing Mutual Recognition Agreements with non EU-countries. The Board also held a development day to discuss amongst other things, Brexit and its potential ramifications for the work of ARB.

Looking Forward

We continually seek to improve the systems we use to deliver our services and now use an enhanced email management system that can track emails and generate standardised responses to routine queries. This enables us to improve turnaround times and better understand the nature and flow of the emails we receive and send. Following improvements made in 2017, we now have a 99% satisfaction rate for ease of use of the online portal and registrant services section of the ARB website. Software developed to store and process passlists electronically is expected to be fully operational later in 2018.

2018 is also the year we will commission comprehensive research into our relationships with others. We strive to be open and accountable and welcome this opportunity to explore how ARB is viewed and gain insight into how we can improve our support of architects and protection of the public.

Thank you

Finally we would like to thank our Board, staff team and all those that helped us deliver our statutory function including those appointed to support ARB work streams and those who ran our Examination, Prescription and Disciplinary processes in 2017. The dedication, skills and knowledge of those we work with are integral to ARB’s continued effectiveness as regulator of the profession.

Nabila Zulfiqar

Nabila Zulfiqar
Chair

Karen Holmes

Karen Holmes
Registrar and Chief Executive

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