Brexit Uncertainty Continues to Impact Architects

IN AUGUST 2019 the RIBA Future Trends survey results suggest the current Brexit status continues to affect architects’ workload expectations.

The survey’s Workload Index dropped to its second-lowest point in a year, with a workload balance figure of 0, compared to this time last year when it was +11.

Regional architects

Practices in London remain negative about future workloads, returning a balance figure of -8 in August. Workloads predictions from practices in the South of England, Wales and the West have now followed London into negative territory, all returning a workload balance figure of -15. In a continued pattern of optimism, however, the North of England results indicate positivity about future workloads (balance figure of +29); practices in the Midlands & East Anglia also reverted to positive territory this month, to +19.

More small practices (1-10 staff) expect their workload to decrease over the next three months, with a balance figure of -4. In contrast, large (51+ staff) and medium-sized practices (11 – 50 staff) remain confident, returning a combined future workload balance figure of +36.

Sectors

Sectoral forecasts for future workload all declined further this month: commercial sector (-6), public sector (-6) and community sector (-4). The community sector has not shown a positive workload prediction since November 2018.

Housing

Overall, the private housing sector forecast remained positive (+1). Here, the most downbeat regions were London (-8) and South East (-11), and the most positive regions were the North of England (+14) and the Midlands & East Anglia (+22).

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index showed some improvement since July, climbing three points to reach 0. Small practices continued to have the lowest staffing index figure, while both medium and large-sized practices both returned a positive staffing index figure.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said, “Many respondents to our Future Trends Survey have drawn attention to issues attributed to Brexit. These include a falling pound causing increasing costs, lowered margins and fee income, and projects failing to move beyond feasibility studies.

Some practices, while acknowledging these are challenging times, explained how they have made themselves more resilient: concentrating on high-quality work, investing in marketing and emphasising high levels of client service.”

RIBA guidance on a no-deal Brexit can be found here.

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