RIBA president Ruth Reed hits out at ’clumsy’ attack

Architects have hit out at the Conservative Party after it circulated a document containing “misleading” figures for architects’ fees obtained under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

Information from the dossier was published in a highly critical Sunday Times article last weekend, under the headline ‘Architects net £98m from schools’.

The figures – obtained by the Conservative Party from local authorities under the Freedom of Information Act – were disputed by architects including BDP and Aedas.

The dossier claims architects made £98m from just 21 councils under the BSF programme and highlights a series of examples of ‘overspending’ on architects.

Architects Aedas and BDP told our sister publication BD, that the fees quoted in the document for Walkden High School and Teddington School were inaccurate.

Aedas claimed their fee for Walkden High School was just a third of the £2.5m quoted in the document.

Anna Scott-Marshall, head of public affairs for the Royal Institue of British Architects (RIBA), told Building: “We feel we are being used as a political football. Ultimately we want it to stop.”

She added there was a mismatch between what the government said about architects in public and behind the scenes.

In a statement this morning Ruth Reed, president of RIBA, criticised the Conservatives for their “clumsy” attack on the profession.

Reed said: “The Conservative Party’s statement that there were disproportionate costs for professional expertise including architects on BSF projects was a clumsy attempt to apportion blame for the failure of BSF when the failure was the bureaucracy and wasteful programme itself.”

“There is much that can be improved on to reduce the costs of delivering school buildings in the future but the use of architects in this political game continues to do a disservice to a profession that is committed to delivering the best possible projects and would have earned every penny of their fees.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “Our Freedom of Information request could not have been clearer. We asked 151 local authorities explicitly for ’the total amount spent on architects’ fees’ and we have used the precise figures provided by those local authorities.”

Ruth Reed and Aedas have written separate letters to the Sunday Times demanding a correction is printed.