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Confidence dips in a market ‘lacking momentum’, new RIBA figures show

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A new RIBA report paints a mixed picture of architects’ confidence in future workload across the UK

The balance of practices expecting to become busier dipped in March for the first time this year, with the insititute’s Future Trends Workload Index falling to +6, down from +17 in February. 

In London, economic uncertainty over Brexit has seen practices remain pessimistic over future workloads, with a balance figure falling deep into negative territory (-17).

But the news is brighter outside of the capital, where practices are more optimistic.

The balance of practices expecting more work was higher in the Midlands and East Anglia (+22), in the North of England (+24) and in the South of England (+25).

Large and medium practices were both optimistic about workloads over the next quarter, but confidence among small practices weakened slightly.

In terms of project types, a downward trend was exhibited across all project types even in private housing, the most upbeat of the sectors surveyed. 

Workload forecasts for commercial and the public sectors both fell, with the community sector workload remaining subdued. 

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index for March fell to +3 compared with +6 in February. Most large practices and medium-sized practices were optimistic about growing their staff numbers but smaller practices remained cautious.

RIBA executive director Adrian Dobson said: ’Commentary received from our participating practices continues to suggest a reasonably steady market but not one with a great deal of momentum.

’London practices remain pessimistic about future workloads, especially those smaller in size. The economic and policy uncertainties created by Brexit continue to impact on the confidence of practices in the UK capital city.

’While large and medium practices both predicted an increase in workloads, many of our participating practices continue to report that fee competition remains a pressure on profit margins.’

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