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RIBA survey: Architects remain positive about workloads

Upward graph increase recovery economy
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Architects remained positive about future workloads in June, according to new data from the RIBA

The institution’s monthly Future Trends Workload Index stood at +17 in June, slightly down from +24 in May 2018.

However, the survey, which gauges confidence in future workloads, was carried out before the prospect of a no-deal Brexit became a more prominent topic of national debate during July.

Adrian Dobson, executive director of professional services at the RIBA, said: ‘The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index remains firmly positive.

‘Commentary received from our participating practices continues to suggest a reasonably steady workflow, but a highly competitive market in terms of achievable fee levels.’

However, the figures for June hid a marked north/south split. Practices in the north of England returned a balance figure of +41, while the figure for the south of England dropped to +4. London firms also remain relatively cautious, with a balance of +12.

The private housing sector remained the strongest source of optimism, with a positive balance of +22.

However, Dobson warned that ‘a cooling of the housing market in London and the south of England, increases in interest rates and potential withdrawal of right-to-buy subsidies may impact on this sector in the medium term’.

The commercial sector, with a balance figure of +6, and the community sector, with a balance figure of +2, both remained in positive territory, but the public sector forecast was down to -4, indicating that practices anticipate an overall decline in public-sector work.

Despite the positivity, there was a big fall in the number of practices anticipating workforce expansion. While staffing forecasts for large practices rose from +51 in May to +60 in June, medium-sized practices (11-50 staff), with a balance figure of zero, and small practices (1-10 staff), with a balance figure of +1, were much less confident of headcount growth.

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