Practices worried about materials shortages and planning hold-ups

Architects’ optimism fell back last month with more practices expecting workloads to stay flat in the coming quarter as worries over materials shortages and the gummed up planning system grew.

The RIBA’s latest Future Trends index recorded a score of +18, down from the +27 posted in July.

All regions remained in positive territory but all slipped back in August, with the key London market coming off by five points to +12.


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Practices are still optimistic about commercial work recovering

RIBA’s head of economic research and analysis Adrian Malleson said: “[Ongoing] challenges include the effects of the pandemic, the current trading relationship with the EU, and shortages of materials and tradespeople.

“Commentary from practices this month highlights the recurrent issues of construction product shortages and associated prices rises, planning application delays, cost increases (particularly Professional Indemnity Insurance) and pressure on fees.”

But he added: “Many practices are continuing to report increasing workloads, a full pipeline of projects, and staff being recruited to meet demand.”

While the private housing and commercial sectors remain positive, work in both the public and community sectors is expected to contract.

The RIBA staffing index, which measures changes in the number of permanent staff employed by firms, fell six points to +7.