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RIBA Brexit challenges and opportunities

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published a new policy briefing highlighting five challenges and five opportunities for architects and architecture in the UK following the referendum to leave the European Union.

In the policy document, RIBA, the membership organisation that provides the standards, training, support and recognition for 40,000 architects in the UK and overseas, offers policy solutions for the UK government that will support architecture's contribution to economic growth and the quality of the built environment.

Five challenges

  1. Upholding the strength of the UK’s world-class architectural sector – Government must prioritise the promotion of open markets at home and abroad, and ensure that it is easier to access finance for business – but in particular SMEs.
  2. Maintaining a skilled and innovative profession - Government must ensure that freedom of movement for architects and the wider construction and creative sectors is maintained.
  3. Retaining the free movement of skills/services and mutual recognition of professional qualifications - The UK should seek mutual recognition arrangements for architects in other large markets. The transferability of UK services within the EU, and the recognition of EU architectural qualifications within the UK must be maintained.
  4. Sustaining affordable EU product supply and ability to specify product standards - The UK must continue to be party to the European Committee for Standardisation’s (CEN) and European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) discussions on the specific needs of the EU in relation to a given standard, and on mandates and decisions about harmonised standards. To promote business within the UK and the export market, common product standards must prevail.
  5. Retaining access to research funding - Now more than ever, ensuring affordable access to high quality professional education will be crucial to the UK economy's success in light of a widening of the skills gaps in the construction and design industry.

Five opportunities

  1. Forging new commercial and research partnerships through new trade agreements - The UK Government should seek to forge new trade agreements which include trade in services agreements, especially with the UK’s top non-EU trading partners, and in areas where UK tradesmen can add most value e.g. Asian countries experiencing rapid urban growth and high levels of infrastructure investment.
  2. Strengthening the UK economy - The Government should set a target for infrastructure spending that ensures the UK’s road, rail, air and telecoms networks are world class.
  3. Gaining a competitive advantage in EU and overseas markets - The government should negotiate transferability of educational qualifications with key partner countries.
  4. Improving SME access to public sector projects by reforming UK procurement policy - Government should do more to ensure that procurement policies are designed with a focus on quality and overall value.
  5. Using VAT flexibility to boost construction and bring down costs of meeting standards - The government should explore changes to the UK’s VAT regime to promote sustainability in the renovation and refurbishment of buildings.

RIBA President Jane Duncan said:

“UK architecture is a flexible and innovative profession. With the right actions taken to address the challenges and exploit the opportunities we’ve outlined today, I’m confident UK architects can deliver strong economic growth, and the buildings and spaces that meet the needs of our communities.”

The RIBA Policy Briefing on Brexit is available to read in full here:


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Howard Crosskey in the RIBA Press Office +44 (0)20 7307 3761
  2. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment.

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