RIBA Future Trends Survey: Brexit Uncertainty Impacts Architects' Workload and Confidence
In October 2018, the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index increased slightly to +11, up from +7 in September, but for the second consecutive quarter the value of work in progress declined – indicating the impact of ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
The North of England regained optimism after dipping significantly last month .....
...... with an increase from +12 to +25. London remains the most cautious at +3 but this is up slightly from October’s figure of +1. The Midlands and East Anglia returned a balance figure of +9, lagging slightly behind the South of England (at +12) and Wales and the West (at +13). The biggest disparity remains between the North of England and London.
Large practices (with 51+ staff) remained the most positive in October, returning a workload balance figure of +70. Medium-sized practices (with 11 - 50 staff) returned a balance figure of +24, and small practices (with 1 - 10 staff) returned a balance figure of +6.
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The private housing sector increased very slightly to +9 from +7 in October, and the public-sector (balance figure -2) and community sector (balance figure -0) both also experienced positive movement, but practices continue to be circumspect about any significant growth. The commercial sector forecast saw the greatest movement, regaining positivity after a dramatic fall the previous month, rising to +4 from -2 in October.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index rose again, standing at +10 in October 2018, up from +4 in September. The staffing forecast for large practices (51+ staff) was down from +43 in October to +29 in September 2018 and for small practices (1-10 staff) it was +6 (up from +4) but it was medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff) which saw the most dramatic increase in staffing forecast, from zero the previous month to +29.
Large and medium practices seem to feel equally confident about their ability to maintain and increase staffing levels, whilst smaller practices remain much less confident about taking on additional staff in the short to medium term.
RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said, “Commentary received from our participating practices suggests that demand for architectural services is continuing to remain stable with less of a divide across the regions.
“However, the overall picture seems to be one of a market that is lacking growth momentum. The economic unease generated by the on-going and increasing uncertainty around Brexit remains.
“With the value of work in progress declining and economic anxiety clouding the willingness of clients to commit to projects, Brexit continues to be a big impact on architects’ confidence”
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