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Job cuts expected at small practices, warns RIBA survey

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Job cuts are expected at small practices across the UK amid an anticipated slowdown in major markets, new research has revealed

The RIBA’s latest monthly poll of architecture firms found that among those with 10 members of staff or fewer, practices predicted their headcount would drop over the first three months of this year.

Public, commercial and community sector workloads were also expected to shrink during that period, according to the institute’s Future Trends Survey for December 2018.

And private housing construction activity was predicted to remain flat, a major slowdown from the growth anticipated in previous months.

RIBA executive director members Adrian Dobson said: ‘Our latest survey results continue to paint a mixed picture.

’While some practices (generally larger ones) report a steady pipeline of commissions, others (predominantly smaller ones) report difficulties as investors and developers continue to halt decision-making due to uncertainty.

 He added: ’The stalling of the house sales market now seems to be affecting confidence in the private housing sector - the main engine of growth in demand for architectural services in recent years. The decline in the private housing sector forecast perhaps explains the weakening of confidence in the small practice segment, which is particularly dependent on this work.’

Practices in Wales and the west of England were most pessimistic about their workloads, with more expecting them to drop than rise over the first quarter of this year.

Firms across London, the Midlands and East Anglia broadly expected activity to remain constant, while the north of England was the only region expecting meaningful growth.

More than 50,000 affordable homes are set to be built in Greater Manchester over the next two decades under a revised development strategy for the district published last week.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that a seasonally adjusted £14 billion-worth of work was carried out by the construction industry in September 2018 – the most since monthly records began in January 2010.

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