We have put together these frequently asked questions about the retention fee. If you can’t find the answer to your question here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0) 20 7580 5861.
Q. How much is the retention fee for 2018?
A. The retention fee for 2018 is £107. This was unanimously agreed by the Board at its meeting on 14 September 2017. This is the same amount as the 2015, 2016 and 2017 fee.
Q. How did you decide what the level of the fee should be?
A. The Board must fulfil its statutory obligations under the Architects Act. It draws up an annual business plan which sets out how it will meet these obligations in the coming year. The fee must therefore be set at a level which allows us to discharge our statutory responsibilities and deliver on the business plan. The 2017/2018 Business Plan includes a review of the routes to registration, together with investment in technology to enable us to deliver our statutory functions in the most cost effective way.
The Board considers the matter very carefully before deciding on the fee, as it recognises the need to ensure that the fee is kept to the minimum necessary to enable it to deliver its responsibilities under the Act.
Q. What is ARB doing to ensure it is operating efficiently?
A. We are always conscious of the need to budget wisely and prudently, and we continue to look for areas where we can make efficiency savings without comprising our responsibilities. We have developed online systems to provide a service that is user-friendly and cost-effective, and we have made savings in postage and printing following a move to electronic communications where possible. Securing efficiency savings remains an ongoing priority to us.
Q. Why do I have to pay the 2018 retention fee by 31 December 2017?
A. In our role as statutory regulator we are required to maintain an up- to-date Register to enable the public to make informed decisions. To be included on the Register an architect must pay a fee. Fees are payable in advance of the period to which they apply. Below we set out how and why the payment date has changed over recent years.
- Previously fees were payable by March of the year to which they applied.
- The decision to bring forward payment from March to December was agreed, after consultation, in 2011. The reason for this decision was to provide clarity on the registered status of architects.
- We also need to eradicate the unfair advantage, enjoyed by some architects, to benefit from a free, three-month period of registration, before resigning or being removed for non-payment
- The payment deadline has been 31 December since 2013.
Q. Why do you hold money in reserves?
A. It is important for any organisation to have funds available to cover any unforeseen events that might arise. ARB is no exception. The Act does not allow the Board to borrow and current Board policy is that there should therefore be a minimum of four months’ operating expenditure held in reserves to mitigate any risks arising. Reserves are important to help meet unbudgeted expenditure, such as legal challenges, which is something that all regulators will face occasionally.
Q. Why do I need to pay a fee? What do I get for my money?
A. Paying the fee means that you are legally entitled to call yourself an architect and it is effectively your licence to practise as an architect. You can use your protected title and regulated status as a market edge over your unregistered and frequently unqualified competitors, who we can take action against if we find they are using the title “architect” unlawfully.
Q. I pay by direct debit, why is the direct debit collected in early December when the deadline for paying the retention fee is 31 December 2017?
A. The direct debits are collected early to give us time to resolve issues with direct debits payments that fail. In these instances, we contact the architects and give them a chance to pay by a different means. The early collection date gives us the time we need to offer architects this opportunity in the instance of the payment failing.
Q. What is the best way to pay if I am abroad?
A. If you are currently overseas and pay by BACS it is likely you will be charged a transaction charge. Why not pay online or give us a call and pay using a debit or credit card.
Q. I’m retired/not currently practising – why can’t I pay a reduced fee?
A. We recognise that some membership organisations have different membership categories which charge different levels of fees. ARB is a statutory regulator not a membership organisation and continued registration is dependent on a fee being paid.
If you are fully retired from practice, that is, you don’t undertake any work related to the design and construction of buildings, you can still refer to yourself socially as an architect even if you are not on the Register. Some architects wish to retain their registration in retirement which is fully acceptable, although no reduced fee can be offered.
Q. Why is it better to resign from the Register, rather than be removed?
If you are not practising and wish to resign from the Register please advise us of this by the payment deadline of 31 December 2017, otherwise you will be removed for non-payment.
If you wish to rejoin the Register, at a later date, it is a straightforward process, as long as you do so within two years of resigning. Any longer than that, and your application to rejoin will be assessed by a peer group of architects – the Competency Standards Group – who will need to be satisfied that you are competent to practise.
If you let your registration lapse, and you are removed from the Register for non-payment of the retention fee, it will be more expensive to rejoin the Register than if you had sent us formal notice of your resignation. For more information click here.
Q. I’m on maternity/paternity leave and nobody contacted me to tell me my fee was due.
A. The Architects Act requires that we show the regular business address of each registered person. The hard copy statutory payment notice is sent to architects at this registered address. Reminder emails and text messages are also sent to architects who have provided email addresses and mobile telephone numbers
We receive a significant number of enquiries from architects about what to do in instances of maternity or paternity leave. In such cases, where individuals wish to remain on the Register, we recommend that they provide us with a secondary personal email address, to which we can send reminders. We advise individuals in this situation to consider changing their postal address to their personal address during their period of maternity or paternity leave. We also recommend that they ask practice colleagues to forward them payment reminders.
The Architects Act requires that we maintain an up to date Register and registration is dependent on the payment of the fee. The Act does not make exceptions and consequently, we are unable to make exceptions for individuals on maternity or paternity leave.
Q. Whose responsibility is it to ensure my annual retention fee is paid? My practice normally pays my fee.
A. It is the responsibility of the registered person, not the practice or someone else at the practice, to ensure that their annual retention fee is paid.
Q. What will happen if I don't pay the fee?
A. We will take payments up to the end of 31 December 2017. After this time, the retention fee window closes. Checks are run against all payments received and, once these are complete, those for whom payment is outstanding are removed from the Register. After this point, the process moves from retention to reinstatement. All those wishing to be reinstated must complete an application to be returned to the Register.
The cost of reinstatement, for someone who has been removed for non-payment is dependent on when they wish to come back on. The fee is made up of the annual retention fee (pro rata), as well as the standard application fee of £35 and a prescribed fee of £10.00 (Lowered from £20.00 in 2015). The prescribed fee is based on the our commitment to the ‘user pays’ principle. Costs are incurred to fund the strike off and reinstatement processes and to answer all the enquiries arising from these processes. These costs are in addition to the costs involved in normal applications for registration and the prescribed fee exists to cover these.
Q. I have paid my retention fee, when will I receive a PDF certificate and receipt?
A. You should receive a certificate and receipt shortly after your payment has been processed. On occasions we have found the email can go directly to a junk or spam folder. If you have checked these folders and still don’t have the receipt and/or certificate, please feel free to contact us.
Q. I understand ARB are being reviewed by Government, do I have to pay my fee?
A. The DCLG, ARB's sponsoring department, carried out a review into the regulation of architects and the Architects Registration Board. Up to date information about the periodic review can be found here.