Equality & Diversity Performance Plan
In 2018 we launched our Equality & Diversity Performance Plan. Working with other professional regulators we developed measurable objectives to be achieved over three years in order to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. We already have an Equality Scheme that sets out our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion and this plan will allow us to measure our success in delivering real change.
One of our legal duties is to investigate serious allegations of misconduct and incompetence against architects. Such allegations are rare, but when they do occur it is crucial for all involved that investigations are handled with due diligence, care and efficiency. In 2018 we developed an investigation portal so that the data, which is often confidential or sensitive, can be transferred quickly and securely between those involved in the investigation.
In our experience many of the complaints submitted to us about architects could have been resolved between the architect and client without the need for regulatory intervention. We created a template letter to help clients explain their concerns in a clear and concise way which can help the architect respond effectively to their worries. Our support is always here if needed, but we hope the template will help many issues be resolved in a simple and less stressful way for both parties.
Largest ever fine for misusing ‘architect’ title
It was in 2018 that the courts imposed the largest ever fine on an individual misusing the title ‘architect’. In addition to a criminal conviction Luton Magistrates’ Court issued a fine of £23,700 and an order to pay a further £5,800 in costs (money raised from fines is paid to HM Treasury). Criminal convictions, fines and the publicity associated with prosecutions are an important deterrent for those who may otherwise have committed the same offence.
We offer to run lectures and workshops for all UK institutions delivering prescribed qualifications as well as architect groups around the country. These sessions help students and architects through regulation and help us to understand the experiences of the future and current profession. In 2018 we refreshed our student sessions to ensure they were as useful and effective as possible. As well as giving information about the process of registering to be an architect, there is now a stronger focus on providing advice on the professional expectations that come with being architects.
Refreshed student sessions
In response to common questions and to ensure all new architects had the information they need, at the start of the year we produced an online ‘welcome pack’ for new and rejoining registrants. In September of the same year we received a Crystal Mark from the Plain English Campaign for the clarity of the information featured. The pack features an array of useful information about regulatory responsibilities and process as well as signposts to other useful organisations that can support them as professionals. It provides an easy to use, single reference point for those new to the profession, helping them successfully manage their regulatory experience.
Regulatory best practice is to ensure resources are used efficiently and effectively. In 2018 we designed an online passlist portal which enables institutions with ARB prescribed qualifications to provide their pass lists in a secure, paperless way with internal and external sign off built in at all the required stages. Working in this way has improved the accuracy of the data we hold, made the process quicker for new applicants to the Register and freed up internal resource to focus on more complex tasks.
Online passlist portal
We recognise that many people might have questions about what the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would mean for them and the architects’ profession. With circumstances around Brexit changing frequently providing clear, definitive and practical information has been a challenge. Across 2018 we met with and provided information for a range of stakeholders sharing what information and advice we could, when we could. This included dedicated eBulletin articles, news releases on governmental updates and ensured we had updated and consistent answers for common queries. A number of our activities in this area have seen significant engagement, indicating they have provided some useful support during this time.
If you want to use UK qualifications to join the Architects Register to become an architect, only those we prescribe are acceptable. Apprenticeships are an industry led initiative and we provided support to an Architecture Trailblazer Group made up of 20 practices to ensure all the relevant requirements for registration and prescription could be covered by the resulting standards, finalised in June 2018. Apprentices can earn as they learn and, as a result of this collaboration, apprentices can be confident prescribed qualifications delivered via this exciting new initiative will be an eligible route to registration as an architect in the UK.
We recognise that robustly measuring our impact can help us evaluate and refine our activities. Clearly communicating our impact, and not just our output, can also help our stakeholders better understand, learn from and engage with us. Looking forward, we have dedicated staff time to reviewing the way we collect and report information in order to improve the work we do and the information we share about it.