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Architects' confidence slumps to lowest level of 2017

Drop decrease down fall
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Confidence in future workloads has fallen to its lowest level this year according to latest RIBA survey.

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index found that confidence in the sector dropped by 18 points from +17 in October to -1 in November, with London practices most pessimistic over workloads in the coming year.

According to the RIBA, firms in both the north of England and the Midlands and East Anglia had the most buoyant outlook for future workloads, posting +7 and +18 respectively. But practices in London held a gloomy view of future work prospects, with the capital posting a -15 figure.

Medium-sized practices were least confident over future work, posting -5, with large practices of 51 or more staff slightly more confident, registering a zero figure. Small practices with less than 10 staff posted a figure of -1.

Confidence fell across all sectors, with private house-building the most positive at +4, the commercial sector posting a -3 figure (down from +5 in October), public sector work falling to -10 and the community sector posting a balance of -7.

RIBA executive director members Adrian Dobson said: ‘Our November data shows a bit of a winter chill as sentiment is driven down by a lack of clarity over the long-term macro-economic outlook and as pressures on fee levels appear to be tightening. Many of our larger practices have cited uncertainty over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations leading to caution on the part of clients.  

’However, we shouldn’t read too much into a single month’s data and these returns pre-date the decision that the Brexit talks can move to phase 2. My biggest concern is the drop in the private housing forecast. The RIBA will need to keep a close eye on that in the New Year.’

According to RIBA, the profession’s future trends staffing index also fell into negative territory for the first time this year, standing at -4 in November compared to +9 in October. 

Small practices, with a balance figure of -5, and medium-sized practices, with a balance figure of -9, were less confident about future staffing levels than large practices, who returned a balance figure of zero.

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