Architects in London lose confidence in future work loads

August 20, 2018 / Isla MacFarlane
Architects in London lose confidence in future work loads

Architects’ confidence dips, particularly in London, Wales and the West, where practices are becoming more cautious about recruiting staff, according to RIBA.

In June 2018, the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index remained positive, standing at +17, but it’s down from the May’s figure of +24.

In terms of geographical analysis, practices in the North of England (with a balance figure of +41) and the Midlands and East Anglia (balance figure +28), remain most upbeat about their medium term workloads. London practices in contrast continue to be more cautious, with a balance figure of just +12.

The biggest change in June was the significant dip in confidence in Wales and the West, who returned a balance figure of +6 down from +28. The South of England also returned a balance figure of just +4, down from +24 in May.

Analysing June’s workload forecast data in terms of practice size, large practices (51+ staff) returned a workload balance figure of +60, medium-sized practices (11 – 50 staff) +40, and small practices (1 – 10 staff) +14.

In terms of different work sectors, the private housing sector, with a balance figure +22, remains by some margin the strongest of RIBA’s sector forecasts. All other sectors workloads dipped somewhat in June 2018.

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

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell back quite sharply this month, wiping out most of last month’s gain, and falling to +2 in June 2018.

Even though the staffing forecast for large practices (51+ staff) was +60 in June, medium-sized practices (11 – 50 staff) returned a balance figure of zero, and small practices (1 – 10 staff) returned a balance figure of +1. Both appear to have become much less confident about taking on additional staff in the short to medium term.

Mirroring the Workload Index, practices in the North of England (balance figure +28) and the Midlands and East Anglia (balance figure +6) are the most optimistic about being able to take on more staff over the next quarter, whereas London practices (balance figure zero), practices in Wales and the West (balance figure -10) and the South of England (balance figure -12) are significantly more cautious on future staffing levels.

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said, “Commentary received from our participating practices continues to suggest a reasonably steady work flow, but practices report a highly competitive market in terms of achievable fee levels.

“A small number of correspondents report that they have seen significant construction tender price inflation and that this has led to delays in getting projects to site.

“The private housing sector remains the driving force sustaining a stable market for architectural services, but despite the fact it looks positive on the whole, 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.”

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