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Architects’ workloads fall for first time in five years

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The annual value of work reported by architects has fallen for the first time in almost five years, according to new figures from the RIBA

Each quarter, the institute’s Future Trends Workload survey asks its practices about the value of work in progress compared with 12 months ago. Data covering January 2018 reveals practices reported a 4 per cent drop in the value of work in progress compared to January last year.

This is the first recorded fall in workloads since April 2013.

However, it seems the downturn has not dampened architects’ optimism about the prospects for future workloads, with the monthly index reporting a rise from +8 in December to +12 in January.

RIBA executive director for members, Adrian Dobson, said: ‘Commentary received from our participating practices continues to suggest a steady market despite the fall in our quarterly figure for the value of work in progress.

‘While London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales seem slightly more pessimistic, practices generally seem to have entered 2018 with an uplift in confidence.’

Dobson said that a number of practices noted a reduction in the number of CVs received from job applicants, particularly from EU architects, which he said was an ‘undoubtable result of the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations’.

Architects in London continue to be the most pessimistic about future workloads, with a balance of -14 during January.

Elsewhere in the South East, prospects are seen as much rosier, with a balance of +39, ahead of the Midlands and East Anglia, both on +25.

Large and medium-sized practices both produced balances of +14, with small practices on +11.

The private sector workload remains the sector seen as most likely for growth, with a positive balance of +13, up from +9 in December.

The commercial sector, however, moved down from +8 to +1 during the month.

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