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RIBA Future Trends - January 2018

Confidence gradually climbs but practices report 4% annual drop in the value of work in progress - the first fall since April 2013

07 March 2018

The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Future Trends Workload Index continued to recover this month, rising further from +8 in December 2017 and rebounding back to +12 in January 2018.

In terms of geographical analysis, the picture remained mixed. London continues to be the most pessimistic about medium term workloads, with a balance figure of -14. Scotland and Northern Ireland also remain quite circumspect with balance figures of zero. By contrast, practices in the South East returned a balance figure of +39, the Midlands and east Anglia a balance figure of +25 and practices in the North of England +18. There seemed to be more anxiety in Wales and the West however, who returned a balance figure of +6.

Analysing the January 2018 data in terms of practice size, there was only limited variation this month. Large practices (51+ staff) returned a balance figure of +14, medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff) also returned a balance figure of +14, and small practices (1 - 10 staff) a balance figure of +11.

Each quarter we ask our practices about the value of work in progress compared with 12 months ago. In January 2018 our practices reported a 4% drop in the value of work in progress compared with January 2017. This is the first annualised fall in the value of work in progress since April 2013.

In terms of different work sectors, it was a mixed picture this month. The private housing sector workload forecast remains the most positive of our sector forecasts and continued its upward momentum, rising to +13 in January 2018 up from +9 in December 2017. However, the commercial sector workload forecast moved in the opposite direction, with a balance figure of +1 in January 2018 down from +8 in December 2017.

The community sector workload forecast (balance figure -1) and the public sector workload forecast (balance figure -4) both remain the weaker, with no overall growth predicted in the medium term.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index was unchanged this month, remaining at +5 in January 2018. Large practices (51+ staff) with a staffing balance figure of +29 are more confident about their ability to increase staffing levels in the medium term than medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff) with a balance figure of +9 and small practices (1 - 10 staff) with a balance figure of +4.

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said:

“Commentary received from our participating practices continues to suggest a steady market despite the fall in our quarterly figure for the value of work in progress. While London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales seem slightly more pessimistic, practices generally seem to have entered 2018 with an uplift in confidence. A number of practices interestingly noted a reduction in the number of CVs received from job applicants, particularly from EU architects, an undoubtable result of the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. For further press information contact Abigail Chiswell-White in the RIBA Media Office Abigail.Chiswell-White@riba.org +44 (0) 20 7580 3811

2. Completed by a mix of small, medium and large firms based on a geographically representative sample, the RIBA Future Trends Survey was launched in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.

3. The Future Trends survey is carried out by the RIBA in partnership with the Fees Bureau. Results of the survey, including a full graphical analysis, are published each month at:
https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/resources-landing-page/future-trends-survey-2018

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 December 2017 was +8

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 December 2017 was +5

6. 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.

7. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. www.architecture.com Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates www.twitter.com/RIBA

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