RIBA has more members but less money


New chief executive named as institute predicts income will drop

The RIBA Council has voted to create two new classes of membership in an effort to boost numbers, one is for retired architects, and another is for part II students on lower incomes.

This Tuesday’s move, which coincides with the news that Harry Rich had been appointed to succeed RIBA chief executive Richard Hastilow, comes amid a major fall in the institute’s income which will result in cost cutting and further staff redundancies.

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Their Vice president Andrew Salter told the council that the number of chartered members paying lower subscriptions on the grounds of financial hardship had almost doubled in the last year, resulting in a loss of nearly £400,000 in funds.

The number of chartered architects on reduced subscriptions has risen from 698 to 1,349, this is despite a 2.9% year-on-year rise in the total number of members.

Under the new rules, retired architects will pay £74 a year to retain RIBA membership, the same as those claiming hardship, as opposed to the full fee of £370.

The council also agreed to introduce concessionary rates for part II “associate members” in financial difficulties, on a sliding scale up to a maximum 60% discount.

While RIBA income is projected to fall by just 10% next year, Richard Hastilow admitted this could be an underestimate. “We recognise it could go further, and we have contingency measures in place should it go further,” he said.

He insisted the new membership classes had been created mainly to serve the interests of members. But council member Chris Roche criticised the move as unfair on older architects. “I feel members over 65 should get free subscriptions, the equivalent of a bus pass,” he said.

However, fellow council member Sam Webb said increasing membership was a sensible move. “The RIBA doesn’t want to lose people — they’d rather have some money than none at all,” he said.

During the meeting, councillors also voted in favour of further considering whether the institute should change its name to the Royal Institute of British Architecture, rather than Architects.

Outgoing president Sunand Prasad, who proposed the motion, said: “It’s something to think about. I was being playful.”

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