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What the Architects Act consultation means for you

This week, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published their response to a consultation on the Architects Act. Find out what this means for you.

10 June 2021

There are some real changes coming down the track in the way that the competency of architects will be monitored by the Architects Registration Board (ARB), and – post-Brexit – the way in which international architects will be able to register and practice in the UK.

This week, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published their response to a consultation on the Architects Act, which closed at the beginning of the year and to which the RIBA inputted. To inform our own response we surveyed the profession. Read the results and our own response.

What did the UK Government recommend?

The MHCLG consultation focused on two core areas – on competency (as well as appeals and listing for disciplinary action), and on how the ARB would recognise international qualifications.

Competency

Both the MHCLG and RIBA surveys showed that there was support for a competency regime that helped support high standards within the profession. However, it is clear that there is a need for flexibility, and without creating additional burdens or complexity for those who already undergo competency checking as part of their membership of the RIBA.

As a result of the consultation:

  • the UK Government will provide the ARB to monitor the competency of architects throughout their careers
  • this system will be developed as part of the ARB’s Competence Review, and the UK Government recommends that the ARB work with the RIBA to develop these criteria, and in consultation with the broader sector
  • the government also stated that the profession wanted to avoid duplication in the efforts they may already be undertaking as part of their professional membership
  • the ARB is recommended by the government to develop an internal and independent appeals regime relating to decisions to remove architects from the register under the new competence regime
  • any disciplinary orders will be published – but the rules on how long they will be published for will be determined after an ARB consultation with the sector
  • the ARB will also be provided powers to charge for additional services

International recognition

Since the EU referendum, the RIBA has been lobbying for mutual recognition agreements to be enacted in Europe and across the world. Support for new agreements was also reflected in the feedback the profession provided direct to the MCHLG through this consultation.

As a result of the consultation:

  • the government will legislate to allow holders of qualifications which the ARB deems as equivalent to UK standards to enter the UK register
  • potential registrants will be required to demonstrate the compensatory measures prescribed by the ARB, such as training or tests, in order to ensure all individuals registering under this process are held to equivalent standards. These standards will be developed by the ARB
  • this route will be used primarily to implement reciprocal arrangements

What’s next?

The Professional Qualifications Bill, which is currently being scrutinised by UK Parliament, will implement some of the changes relating to international recognition of professional qualifications. The Building Safety Bill, which is due to enter Parliament in the next few months, will implement many of the changes relating to competency.

The RIBA has been clear that any changes should be made with confidence of the profession, and that the role and value of architects must in light of any new regime be reflected in their role in the planning system.

Read the RIBA's reply to the Government's response on the Architects Act.

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