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Practices feeling most uneasy about taking on permanent staff – index hits lowest level in almost two years

22 August 2019

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell five points in July to -3, showing a significant decrease in the appetite of practices to recruit permanent architectural staff. This is the first time that the Staffing Index has fallen into negative territory for almost two years.

The Workload Index reduced to +5, dropping from +9 in June 2019.

While practices in the North of England remained the most positive (+39) and the South, Wales, and the West continued to show greater confidence about future workloads (both up two points since June), practices in London remain the most downbeat, returning a figure of -15 from -8. The Midlands and East Anglia also slipped into negative territory from 0 to -10.

Large practices (51+ staff) again seemed the most confident, while medium-sized practices (11 to 50 staff) returned a workload balance of +22 and small practices (1 to 10 staff) recorded a two-point fall to +3.

While increasing overall (to +3), the private housing sector forecast varied significantly by region this month: in London the private housing sector forecast dropped to -18, whereas in the North of England it rose to +32.

The commercial sector workload forecast dropped to -2, the fifth time in the past 12 months that the commercial sector forecast has been negative, and the community sector returned a balance of -1.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“Commentary from practices paints a concerning picture - the looming Brexit deadline continues to cause uncertainty. This month, practices have described the architectural market as both quiet and challenging. Commissions are coming in less frequently, projects are being put on hold, practices are much less confident about the number of permanent staff and there are deep feelings of apprehension and unease about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.”

You can view RIBA guidance on a no-deal Brexit here


Notes to editors:

1. For further press information contact +44 (0) 20 7307 3813

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

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.

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.

6. To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email 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. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates

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