The UK has a reputation for the high quality of its architectural profession. To maintain that reputation it is important that anyone who hires an architect can be assured of their competence. This is partly why we have a system of regulation under the Architects Act where nobody can use the title of architect unless they are registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). However, it is critical that the board conducts its regulatory function in a way that is proportionate, cost-effective and transparent and does not impose unnecessary burdens on those wishing to practice as architects.
The ARB has been the subject of a periodic review, in line with Cabinet Office guidance for reviews of arm’s length bodies. I am today publishing the report of that review. This confirms the decision taken by the last Government to continue light-touch regulation of architects based on protection of title to provide protection for home owners, businesses, builders and others commissioning work from architects.
The ARB also acts as the UK competent authority role for architects under the mutual recognition of professional qualifications directive. While the UK remains a member of the European Union, ARB will continue to play that role but this will be kept under review in the light of any arrangements made as the UK leaves the EU.
We have been grateful for suggestions about how to modernise the operation of the board and the review has identified a number of opportunities to reduce costs and improve services. These include strengthening the board’s governance and accountability and improving the complaints handling and disciplinary processes. It is the Government’s intention to implement these recommendations.
The review also made a number of recommendations relating to the way in which qualifications are set which entitle people to register as architects. These recommendations could lead to extensive change for UK architects and architectural education but also relate directly to UK compliance with the EU mutual recognition of professional qualifications directive. The Government have decided that it would be premature to take forward these recommendations at this time, but as the UK leaves the EU, we recognise these will need to be addressed. This will minimise disruption and cost to business, architects and the educational sector.
The Government are grateful for the work of the board in delivering its role. The recommendations of the review will enable the board to serve both architects and their clients even more effectively and the Government look forward to working with the board on implementing them.
I am placing a copy of the review report in the Library of both Houses.