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News & opinion

31 OCT 2022

RICS’ Concerns about c 186 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill has continued its passage through parliamentary committee and will soon be scrutinised in the House of Lords. RICS is engaging closely with our members and stakeholders across many sectors to input their expert advice and to support Government on its levelling up aims at this pivotal time for the UK economy.

Read our Levelling Up and Sustainable Placemaking report

Clause 186 of the Bill specifically relates to RICS, and seeks explicit powers for the Secretary of State to investigate the work and performance of RICS.

Since the Bill’s publication in May, a number of major stakeholders have voiced their concern to RICS and to Government over the potential impacts of this proposed legislation. We have remained in close discussions with the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities on the potentially harmful consequences of this clause.

These concerns centre on the proposed legislation’s potential to undermine confidence in the independence of the Institution’s work for the benefit of the market, the public, businesses and members. As a professional body with a public interest and regulatory role, RICS must be demonstrably independent in its work. The presence of this provision would be seen as curbing the Institution’s ability to act, and speak, in what it believes is in the public interest, even if this view may, from time to time, disagree with Government policy.

Last year, the Institution’s Governing Council commissioned Lord Bichard to conduct an independent review of the governance, strategy and purpose of RICS. This was published in June. The Governing Council is now implementing all of Lord Bichard’s recommendations in full. As part of this, RICS will commission independent reviews every five years, with their findings published openly. This will be a further safeguard over and above the governance and controls in place at the Institution, which ensure accountability through independent oversight and scrutiny, funded entirely by the profession.

Secretary of State Michael Gove welcomed the Bichard Review’s findings and had expressed his support for an alignment between the government’s proposals and the Bichard review reforms.

We will continue to engage with peers, ministers and the Department on this matter as the bill progresses in the hope that an outcome can be reached which avoids duplication and most crucially, safeguards the crucial independence of professions.