Inflation-busting rise blamed on extra workload from Brexit and regulation changes

The retention fee to remain on the architects’ register will go up to £119 next year, Arb has announced.

The inflation-busting 8% rise, up from £111, is the first in two years. Arb claimed it had managed to limit the increase by dipping into its reserves but it provoked howls of protest from some architects who have no choice but to pay it.

Acting chief executive and registrar Marc Stoner said the rise was necessary to fund extra work the Arb was anticipating as a result of Brexit and changing regulatory requirements.

The Building Safety Bill and changes to fire safety legislation, which are the government’s response to Judith Hackitt’s review after the Grenfell fire that claimed 72 lives, will make significant changes to the regulatory landscape in which architects operate.

Arb said it would have to support architects and schools of architecture with guidance on the new standards relating to building safety and the UK’s departure from the EU, as well as on tackling the climate emergency.

It is also in the middle of a related review of the competences that it will require of architects in the future.

Stoner said: “We can already see that the next year is going to be a period of huge change, investment and improvement for Arb, and we are committed to supporting architects, schools of architecture, the public and our many other stakeholders through the major challenges we all expect to face in 2021.

“We are anticipating important regulatory changes and the inevitable costs these will bring, not least preparing for EU Exit, ensuring the profession is supported in meeting new fire and life safety and sustainability design standards, and reviewing our systems for educational and professional standards.”

Other projects it said required extra investment were improving the online register and updating and securing its IT infrastructure.

“Digital investment and more efficient ways of working will both help to save money in future and improve everyone’s experience of working with Arb,” he said.

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Arb’s acting chair Alan Kershaw insisted they had attempted to balance the impact on architects with fulfilling their statutory duties “in the face of accelerating change, major regulatory pressures and uncertain economic conditions”.

He added: “Over previous years we have been able to limit fee rises but, as more is asked of Arb, we must increase our income to deliver effective regulation and regulatory support for the profession. I’m glad we have been able to use reserves to keep that increase significantly lower than we first thought. We will ensure this money is well spent to deliver tangible benefits to architects and the public.”