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RIBA Future Trends Survey results for November 2011


14 December 2011

Press release contact:

Tessa Kordeczka
T: +44 (0)207 307 3761
E: Tessa.Kordeczka@riba.org

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends Survey for November 2011 shows that overall workloads appear to be becoming more stable, but confidence about the future remains fragile. Statistical analysis of the survey enables the RIBA to track regularly the two key indices of confidence within the profession: future workloads and staffing levels.

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index has risen for the second consecutive month, now standing at -4 (up from -7 in October and -10 in September 2011). As in previous months, practices in London remain more optimistic about future growth in the demand for architects' services than those in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Large practices – those with over 51 staff – appear increasingly confident that workloads will increase over the next three months. With a healthy balance figure of +33, significantly more large practices now anticipate more work. In general, however, small practices – one to 10 staff – and medium practices – 11 to 50 staff – are less confident about being able to increase their workloads.

Despite a rise in the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index from -8 in October to -4 in November, practices generally do not feel sufficiently confident to increase staffing levels. Large practices, however, returned a positive balance figure, indicating that some practices of over 51 staff may recruit in the New Year.

Compared with October 2011, slightly fewer - 30% - of those responding to the survey felt that they had personally been under-employed during November.

The forecast for the public sector improved slightly in November 2011, but those for the commercial, community and private housing sectors all edged downwards. Despite that, the private housing sector remains the most resilient, with a relatively solid demand for bespoke residential refurbishment and extension work. In addition, large practices continue to report an improved outlook for work in the commercial sector.

Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice, said:

'Looking at last month's survey, bespoke housing, conservation and some specialist health and elderly care sectors seem to be among the better performing sectors.

But, generally, the situation remains challenging. Practices continue to find it difficult to predict future cash flow and there are signs of a return to high levels of late payment of fees. While some practices report increased feasibility work for commercial projects, these are not yet always leading to full commissions, and many clients are still finding it hard to secure bank lending for projects.'

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Tessa Kordeczka in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3761 or email tessa.kordeczka@riba.org|.
2. Completed by a mix of small, medium and large firms based on a geographically representative sample, the survey was launched in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects' profession.
3. To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email practice@riba.org|. The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all returns are independently processed in strict confidence by our partners the Fees Bureau.
4. The definition for the workload balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less. A negative figure means more respondents expect less work than those expecting more work. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index, which for November is -4.
5. The definition for the staffing balance figure is the difference between those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and those expecting to employ fewer. A negative figure means more respondents expect to employ fewer permanent staff. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index, which for November is -4.


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