The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the planning profession in the United Kingdom, issued as its State of the Profession 2023 report, which shows how public sector planners have fallen by a quarter between 2009 and 2020 and median salaries have effectively fallen from £50,000 in 2005 to £33,000 today.
…’ ‘This report is both welcome and depressing in equal measure…’
IHBC Chair David McDonald said: ‘This report is both welcome and depressing in equal measure.’
‘The loss of planners in the public sector mirrors that of conservation officers. The information on salaries also supports what the IHBC has argued for some time, that the problems that local planning authorities are facing are due not only to limited capacity but also to lack of seniority in key positions.’
‘The IHBC is also conscious that we share the RTPI’s lack of diversity amongst our members’
‘However I am delighted to announce that we are raising our game in this area substantially with the recent appointment of a trustee charged with leading the Board’s 2022 Equity, Diversity and Inclusion commitments from 2022, Jo Saady, Chair of our South Branch.’
…5% of planners are people from a racialised minority…
State of the Profession 2023 reports:
- We estimate that there are around 22,000 planners in the United Kingdom
- There are around 18,000 RTPI members in professional membership categories (affiliate, associate, licentiate and chartered), of whom at least 16,000 work as planners by this report’s definition. The RTPI’s coverage of the profession is therefore in the range of 74-82%.
- Most planners in the UK live in England (18,100), followed by Scotland (1,600), Wales (1,500) and Northern Ireland (800).
- About 40% of planners are women. A similar ratio holds for planners in the RTPI membership. However, there is a gender balance in the younger half of planners with RTPI membership (under the median age of 42).
- Approximately 5% of planners are people from a racialised minority. This is an increase compared to 2019. Similarly to gender, diversity in race and ethnicity is greater amongst younger professionals.
- On both national and institutional levels, there is very poor data on the representation of planners with disabilities and of sexual orientation. This hinders the self-understanding necessary for building a more equal, diverse and inclusive profession.
- Planners are increasingly employed in the private sector (50%). The largest employers of planners are local authorities and consultancies. The number of planners working in the public sector shrunk by a quarter between 2009 and 2020.
- The remuneration of planners in real terms has been in sharp decline. If salaries had followed inflation since 2005, the median planner should be making close to £50,000 annually, as opposed to the actual value of £33,000.
- There are currently around 5,200 students in 32 RTPI-accredited planning programmes, with 4,600 of them in the UK.
….With a focus on understanding the needs of its members and facilitating an informed dialogue with the government and the general public, the report sheds light on the challenges and opportunities facing the planning profession in the 2020s.
As society grapples with climate change, housing shortages, and public health, effective planning is more crucial than ever. To support the formulation of robust planning policies, it is imperative to gain a deep understanding of the current state of the planning profession.
Building on the foundation of the 2019 State of the Profession report, this updated publication provides insights into the size, demographics, employment patterns, and pressing challenges confronting the UK’s planning profession.
Key findings from the report include:
- The UK has a professional planning workforce of approximately 22,000 individuals in 2023, showcasing stability when compared to 2019 figures.
- Gender diversity continues to improve, with women comprising 40% of the planning workforce, and gender parity observed among professionals under the age of 42. Progress in racial diversity is evident and steadily on the rise.
- 75-80% of planners are RTPI members, underlining the institute’s significance to the profession.
- Accredited planning programs across the UK are attracting over 4,000 students, preparing the next generation of planning professionals.
- Approximately 50% of planners are employed in private sector roles, especially within consultancies, while public sector employment has faced a decline.
- Real median salaries for planners have witnessed a steady decline over the past 15 years, emphasising the need for a closer look at compensation within the profession.
- Resourcing challenges, skills shortages, and political uncertainty pose formidable hurdles for public sector planning across the four nations.
Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: “There are many encouraging statistics that we can find in this report, and it’s positive to see the profession taking encouraging steps in becoming more diverse.
“However, while the planning profession is maintaining steady overall numbers, it continues to face significant strains due to the under-resourcing of Local Planning Authorities. With proper resourcing, the planning profession can play a vital role in sustainably shaping built and rural environments to meet pressing housing, infrastructure and economic needs.”
Read the report in full here.