Foreword from the Chair and Registrar and Chief Executive
Welcome to the 2015 Annual Report.
2015 was a busy year for ARB as we continued to contribute to the Government’s Periodic Review into the regulation of architects, whilst delivering on our statutory remit to regulate the profession in the public interest.
Increased demand for our services – In 2015, we saw demand for our services increase. At the end of December 2015 the Register stood at 36,678, the highest year end number to date. There were 2,279 new admissions to the Register, which represents the largest number of new admissions in a single year since the present Act came into force. Once again, this included a small increase in the number of new female registrants with women making up 42% of new admissions. European admissions also increased to 1072; applicants from the EU represented 47% of all new admissions using the freedom of movement provided under the European Union Professional Qualification Directive. In the area of prescription, there was an increase in the number of new qualifications prescribed by the Board with a number of institutions expanding their provision. The number of complaints about architects conduct or competence remained relatively stable, but the number of prosecutions for misuse of title rose from two, in 2014, to nine in 2015. In January, a court ordered a company to pay £10,000 in fines and costs for misusing the title architect, this is the biggest penalty yet for such an offence.
Phase 2 of the Periodic Review – In 2015 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) continued with phase 2 of the Periodic Review into the regulation of architects, with this phase looking at the form and function regulation should take. The first phase concluded, in November 2014, that statutory regulation of architects would remain on the basis of protection of title. We have continued to make an active contribution to the review process and, at the time of writing (July 2016), we await publication of the Government’s final report.
Governance – Organisational leadership remained constant throughout 2015 as we sought to focus on delivering business as usual throughout the Periodic Review process. Myself and Richard Parnaby were reappointed as Chair and Vice Chair respectively and membership of the Board’s Committees remained largely unchanged. Karen Holmes was appointed as Registrar and Chief Executive of ARB, having previously undertaken the role on an interim basis. In November 2015 nominations opened for those wishing to stand in the election of Architect Board Members, a process which concluded in Spring 2016.
As a Board Team we remain committed to principles of good governance, once again undertaking a self-evaluation exercise to reflect on the contributions made and identify actions which will further strengthen our ability to operate in line with the five principles of regulatory best practice – proportionality, accountability, consistency, transparency and targeting.
The Code – The Code of Conduct and our professional standards function is a key part of our regulatory role. In 2015, we conducted a consultation into whether the Code remained fit for purpose, which produced a healthy response. This project was continued in 2016. We have also taken steps to publish more information about professional conduct matters and at the beginning of 2015 we launched a new ‘Dear Architect’ column in our eBulletin to highlight relevant issues to the profession.
Equality and diversity – The Public Sector Equality Duty (as set out in the Equality Act 2010) requires us to put equality at the heart of what we do, in terms of shaping policy, delivering services and advancing equality of opportunity. We have been collecting equality data for new admissions to the Register for several years and in 2015, we undertook a survey of architects. Building up a picture of this data is of great value to us to ensure that there are no unintentional barriers to accessing our services. It also allows us to place aggregate information in the public domain for others to consider.
As we reflect on the progress made in 2015 and look forward to the year ahead, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who work for ARB for their contribution to ensuring that we operate as an efficient and effective regulator, providing high quality provision for all those who use our services. A special thank you to the staff team who have delivered our regulatory services with their usual professionalism. They have approached the challenges of 2015 head on, with team members taking on additional responsibilities and working flexibly to deliver our statutory functions and business plan.
Registrar and Chief Executive, ARB