Welcome to the 2014 Annual Review.
2014 was a busy but fulfilling year for ARB, with the organisation continuing to deliver its statutory functions whilst at the same time contributing to the government’s Periodic Review of the regulation of architects.
Work volumes continued to rise throughout 2014. The Register grew to over 35,000 architects by the end of 2014. This is the highest number of registrants since ARB was established by the Architects Act 1997. Significantly, first-time female admissions for 2014 represented 41% of the total. The element of our work concerned with prescribing (recognising) qualifications saw a rise in applications from new institutions and an increase in notifications of EU qualifications. Additionally, the professional standards department received nearly 160 formal complaints, the highest number since 2010.
At the same time we undertook a number of other major pieces of work including, after a thorough exploratory and consultative exercise, the introduction of Professional Conduct Committee Consent Orders as a way for appropriate disciplinary cases to be dealt with more efficiently. This mechanism means that, in certain circumstances when it is in the public interest, an architect who admits to an allegation can choose to accept a consent order rather than go through the full disciplinary process. Additionally, in line with the Board’s commitment to undertaking a review of routes to registration, we conducted an extensive exercise to scope out the information and factors such a review would need to consider. It was hoped that this review would commence in 2015 although the Board have postponed the commencement of the project until the outcome of the Periodic Review is known.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) commenced their Periodic Review into the regulation of architects in March 2014. This evaluation forms part of a wider government commitment to re-examine the forms and functions of public bodies. We have fully engaged with the review process, seeing it as an opportunity to reflect on what the organisation does well and where change would improve regulatory effectiveness. The Board worked as a highly effective team on ARB’s evidence submission, which we have published on our website. Board members participated in interviews with DCLG and some represented ARB alongside the Chair and the Registrar at review workshops. Representatives from DCLG’s review team were also invited to and attended Board meetings to explain the review process. The review was divided into two phases. The first phase looked at whether or not continued regulation of the profession was still needed and in November 2014 phase one of the review concluded that there was a case for continued light-touch statutory regulation based on title regulation. Phase two is on-going. It is looking at what form the regulation of architects should take. In particular, in this second stage, DCLG is focusing on routes into the profession, the complaints process and governance arrangements.
Ensuring that we operate effectively as a Board is a key priority. The Board sets the business plan and scrutinizes the organisation’s delivery against its objectives, whilst carefully managing ARB’s finances. All of our Committees and the staff team feed into the Board, with reports presented both in writing and in person so that our Board members have the opportunity to hold the organisation to account. As such, in 2014 the Board considered reports from the Prescription Committee; the Chair of the Professional Conduct Committee; the Audit Committee and the Remuneration Committee. In line with our commitment to transparency, all papers relating to open sessions of the Board are published in the Board meetings section of our website.
Maintaining and promoting best practice principles for Board governance is fundamentally important and in 2014 the Board and its Committees conducted a self-evaluation exercise. This was a thorough and far-reaching piece of work, incorporating the Board’s perspectives on the role of the Board; the Board’s ethos and approach; risk management; performance management; Board effectiveness; relationships with stakeholders; Board composition and corporate reporting. We found this an incredibly useful review which enabled the Board to reflect on its purpose and objectives; and Board members noted organisational strengths and areas for improvement which will be targeted going forward. The Board has also undertaken Board development activities including sessions on corporate governance and conflicts of interest.
As we consider the organisation’s effective delivery of the 2014 business plan, we reflect on our regulatory remit to act in the public interest and remain committed to the core values of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. These values will continue to remain at the heart of what we do going forward and we thank our dedicated Board members and staff team as well as all those individuals appointed by the Board for their hard work and commitment throughout.
Registrar and Chief Executive, ARB
Please note Karen Holmes was Interim Registrar and Chief Executive during 2014 and was appointed as Registrar and Chief Executive of ARB in June 2015.