Monthly RIBA survey shows falling confidence in new work

Almost a quarter of architects expect their workload to fall, despite survey evidence of a stronger than expected recovery in the economy at the start of the year.

The figures from the RIBA’s monthly survey show that 23% of architects expect workloads to fall, with a balance of 9% more architects saying they were expecting to reduce rather than take on staff in future. In total architects were marginally positive, with the workload index staying at +8%.

Expectations of state of the housing and commercial markets became less optimistic, although both remained marginally positive, with a balance of +9% expecting housing growth and +1% expecting commercial growth.

This was offset by deepening pessimism over public sector workloads, with a balance of -22% expecting public work to increase.

Adrian Dobson, RIBA director of practice, said: “It is of concern that the positive growth trend in workload seen since December 2010 now appears to be somewhat running out of steam, with an increasing sense of uncertainty as to the future direction of travel for practice workloads.

“Practices in London and the South of England continue to be significantly more confident about their work prospects than those in the rest of the United Kingdom.

“Anecdotal evidence received this month focuses on a number of familiar issues, including delays and uncertainties in the planning system, intense fee competition and a general consensus that the situation remains very unpredictable, which affects confidence among both architects and their clients.”