Institution wants government to abandon plans to “avoid duplication” with its own proposed five-yearly reviews

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has called on the government to give up plans to launch its own independent reviews into the organisation.

The RICS wants ministers to remove a clause in the Levelling Up Bill which grants the power to investigate the institution’s governance if it is not deemed to be operating effectively.

Clause 186 was added to the bill in May, and allows the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to appoint an independent reviewer to look into the RICS and make recommendations in a report which the government could publish.

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The RICS’ Parliament Square headquarters

Last month, the RICS published the findings of a six-month independent review into the institution carried out by former civil servant Michael Bichard, which included the recommendation that it carries out further reviews every five years.

In a statement on its website last week, the RICS said it is now calling on the government to remove Clause 186 or update it to align with Bichard’s recommendations to “avoid duplication”.

It added that, shortly before leaving office, former DLUHC secretary of state Michael Gove expressed support for an alignment between the government’s proposals and Bichard’s findings to “enable a single review of RICS to take place which would satisfy all requirements”.

In an interview with Building last month, Bichard said the proposal for reviews every five years was “not at all” intended to ward off ministers from carrying out their own reviews.

> Also read: Explainer: Key recommendations in the RICS review

But the report which was published following his own review said the proposals “could form the basis of further discussions with the [government] over the precise wording in the Bill.” 

Bichard’s recommendations, which have been accepted by the RICS’ governing council, also include shaking up the institution’s senior roles and governance structure, establishing new committees dedicated to improving services for members, and reforming its international strategy.

Gove was fired by Boris Johnson earlier this month amid a wave of ministerial resignations, shortly before the prime minister announced he was stepping down. The new secretary of state for DLUHC is Greg Clark.