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The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is calling on the UK government to secure a Brexit deal that protects the British architectural sector, amid fears the sector’s £4.8bn contribution to the UK economy would decline in a ‘bad’ or ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Following the release of its new ‘Global Talent, Global Reach’ report earlier this month, RIBA revealed that the UK’s world-leading architectural sector is at risk of major changes to the way Britain does business globally. That’s due to the industry’s dependence on European talent and professionals even further afield.

However, RIBA believes there are opportunities for the UK government to consider retraining and attracting skilled architects and strike trade deals that would be hugely beneficial for UK as a global architectural hub.

Within its report, RIBA says that a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario would see exports to the European Union (EU) alone fall by 29%, with £73m lost annually in export earnings globally. However, RIBA confirms the potential for fresh growth in British architecture services outside of the EU. Striking a trade agreement with China, the USA, India and the United Arab Emirates could yield minimum returns of £54m a year.

Ben Derbyshire, president, RIBA, said: “Without a Brexit deal that works for UK architecture we risk losing more of our global talent due to increased costs and economic uncertainty.

“A no deal Brexit is not an option; it would be a disaster for UK architecture and our built environment, and the Government must take this option off the table.

“This means remaining open to the best and brightest talent from around the world and a new trade relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.

“Anything less will lead to a skills exodus, higher costs across the industry and the failure to deliver domestic policies on housing, infrastructure and the industrial strategy all of which rely on our being open for business to international design talent.”

As a follow-up to its report, RIBA is calling on the UK government to take the following immediate action to protect the UK’s architectural sector during Brexit negotiations:

  • An immigration system which continues to allow British businesses access to the best international talent from the EU and the rest of the world post-Brexit.
  • Maintain mutual recognition of architects’ professional qualifications with the EU and seek new mutual recognition agreements for architects to work in the USA, Australia, Canada and China.
  • A Brexit deal with the EU which maintains market access and thwarts non-tariff barriers; whilst securing new services trade agreements with large markets to create new opportunities for British architecture.
  • Increased support from the Department for International Trade to encourage small and medium-sized architectural practices to expand globally.

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