Philip Dilley, the chairman of Arup, has forecast further takeovers and a “tougher” year as consultants are hit by cuts in public sector spending.

Dilley, who took over at Arup in April 2009, said the recent spate of takeovers of British consultants by US firms, such as URS’ takeover of Scott Wilson, was likely to continue.

He said: “There’s a period of fairly rapid change in the industry and there could well be more of them.”

He said Arup was not looking to acquire new businesses, however. “There is nothing on the cards at the moment.”

Dilley also predicted that the private sector would fail to plug the gap created by government cuts. Although private work is looking healthier, he did not think it would grow quickly enough.

“The private sector is already picking up and London is leading the way - we have seen a number of people dusting off schemes,” he said.

“But my guess is that it won’t pick up fast enough and it will get tougher this year in the UK. Our strategy is to partner with firms more than ever before.”