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Pessimism grows as RIBA survey reflects summer slowdown

Drop decrease down fall
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The profession’s confidence has continued to tumble, according to the RIBA’s Future Trends workload index for August 

The findings, based on the monthly responses from a sample of RIBA practices, echo fears reported during the summer by the AJ of a market slowdown.

The institute’s Future Trends workload index figure for August month fell to +11, down from +14 in July – and from +23 in May.

Practices in London remained the most cautious regarding future workloads, with an August balance of -6, a further dip from the -2 recorded in July.

Firms in the north of England were the most optimistic about their medium-term workload prospects in August, with a figure of +39, while practices in the Midland and East Anglia also proved fairly upbeat with a score of +19. 

The data presents a mixed picture for the different sectors, with private housing showing the most positive figure of +19, but with both the community sector (-7) and the public sector (-4) presenting a more uncertain front going into the next quarter. 

RIBA executive director members Adrian Dobson said: ‘August’s RIBA Future Trends survey continues with the consistent themes we have seen over summer 2017, namely a steady outlook in the medium term, but a sense of a more unpredictable longer-term outlook .

There is a sense of a more unpredictable longer-term outlook

‘Housing remains the area of most growth, though many of our corresponding practices report that fee competition remains fairly intense.’

The index also shows staffing fell in August to +5, from +10 in July. Large practices were more confident of their permanent staffing levels in the next quarter, with a figure of +25, while small practices had a score of just +2. 

Earlier this month, talking at a Conservative Party Conference event, RIBA president Ben Derbyshire warned that EU architects working in the UK were already starting to ‘drift away’, and urged the government to form a ‘united voice’ about Brexit. 

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