Architects’ confidence in future workloads rose in September, according to the RIBA’s workload index. But the figures mask worries about a market slowdown
The Future Trends workload index, based on monthly responses from a sample of RIBA practices, rose to +17 in September, up from +11 in August and an earlier high of +14 in July 2017.
But RIBA executive members director Adrian Dobson said: ‘While workloads are steady, there is anecdotal evidence of a weakening in general business confidence that is beginning to become evident in the architectural market.
‘Private investors, whether homeowners or commercial developers, remain active, but the public and community sectors are still at a relatively low ebb, so any weakening in overall private sector confidence is obviously a concern.’
Practices in London are the most concerned about future workloads, with a balance of just +7, compared to +29 in the North of England and +26 in East Anglia – the two most optimistic regions. The London figure is, nevertheless, still up from -6 recorded in August.
Most sectors saw upward movement, with the exception of the private housing sector, which fell slightly from +19 to +18 over the month. Housing, however, remains the most positive of all sector forecasts.
The RIBA also revealed that its Future Trends staffing index remained at +5, with the majority of practices expecting permanent staff levels to remain the same or increase over the coming quarter.
Large and medium-sized practices (+14 and +17 respectively) were more optimistic than small practices, which had a balance figure of +3.