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Changes to the Architects Act: RIBA survey findings

What does the profession think about the proposed changes to the Architects Act? To help shape the RIBA’s response to the government consultation, we ran a survey that received over 500 responses.

25 January 2021

What does the profession think about the proposed changes to the Architects Act? To help shape the RIBA’s response to the government consultation, we ran a survey that received over 500 responses.

Out of 502 respondents, 84% were architects registered with the Architects Registration Board; 75% were RIBA, RSUA, RIAS or RSAW members; 7% were working towards qualification; 3% were not registered architects but provided similar services; 3% were retired members of the profession; and the remaining participants listed themselves as ‘other’ – such as academics or construction sector professionals.

Read more about the results of our survey below.

When asked how important mandatory competency requirements are for promoting the best standards and confidence within the profession:

  • 85% said that mandatory competency requirements were "very important" or "somewhat important", compared to only 6% who said they were "somewhat unimportant" or "very unimportant"
  • Commentary was largely supportive; many understood the need to support public trust and maintain high standards

Respondents also raised caveats. Many called for assurance that any new requirements would be balanced with those across the whole construction sector to ensure public confidence, especially regarding the regulation of title, where people can provide the same services as an architect without being registered with the ARB. Others also wanted to see government recognition of the real value that architects bring to construction and planning.

When asked how frequently architects should be monitored for competency as part of a regulated system overseen by the government:

Most respondents said mandatory competence testing is important, but flagged this must be done without creating serious burdens on day to day practice.

  • 34% suggested it should take place every 4 to 5 years
  • 17% stated it should occur every 2 to 3 years
  • 14% said it should take place every 6+ years
  • 5% said that architects should not be regulated

Not all respondents supported ongoing testing or monitoring. 25% said architects should only be checked at the point of application.

RIBA members already undertake mandatory CPD and training, but when asked which topics should be included as part of a regulatory regime controlled by the ARB:

  • 70% selected fire safety
  • 68% selected health, safety and wellbeing
  • 67% selected legal, regulatory and statutory compliance
  • 50% selected sustainable architecture
  • 46% selected design, construction and technology

When asked which elements of an architect’s function should be regulated, either in addition to or instead of the current regulation of title:

  • 49% stated they wanted to see regulated elements of function for building and planning control
  • One third said that only title should be regulated
  • 10% said only building control or planning control should be regulated
  • 7% said they either did not know or were against regulation of title and function

What will happen next?

These findings have helped to shape our own response to the consultation.

The RIBA is going to lobby the government to ensure that any changes work to promote the value of the profession. Architects are central to driving the highest standards in the built environment and resolving many of the significant national and global challenges we face today, from sustainability to public safety.

Alongside launching our own first mandatory competence test on Health and Life Safety, the RIBA will work closely with the MHCLG and ARB as they gather responses from the sector and begin to outline new requirements.

As part of broader concerns relating to the consultation, several respondents also stated that they wanted the government to move forward with initiating international agreements for recognition of professional qualifications with EU countries and those further afield – and we agree. We will continue to urge the government to provide the ARB with necessary power to negotiate international agreements that will enable UK architecture to thrive globally.

If you are an RIBA member with questions about these changes, please email info@riba.org.

You can also sign up to the RIBA’s Political Update by emailing public.affairs@riba.org to keep an eye on developments.

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