Quantity surveyors were confronted with more grim news this week as it emerged that their fees had fallen further in the past year than those of any other type of construction consultant

The annual survey from research body The Fees Bureau showed the average hourly rate for a sole principal in a QS firm fell by 17% between 2008 and 2009 and by 10% for an associate.

The news came as it emerged that the RICS was making 17 people redundant as part of a move to restructure its library service.

The Fees Bureau survey showed that QSs compared poorly with architects, whose pay fell 4% for associates and remained constant for sole principals. Consulting civil and structural engineers saw no change in the two categories, the bureau said.

Average fees charged for new work also showed a downward trend for all three consultant groups, although QSs were once again the worst affected. The QS fees index fell by six points in the past 12 months, compared with a four-point drop for architects and consulting engineers.

Industry figures said the impact of the recession on fees would be felt for a long time, in spite of optimism generated by rising activity in the housing sector.

Phil Jones, senior partner at Ridge, said: “The problem is that businesses want to secure some forward work and, if they haven’t got a lot, they’re going to go in all guns blazing. It’s going to be competitive for some time to come.”

Mike Staples, partner at Rider Levett Bucknall, added that consultants would only be able to reverse the trend by bidding for work at more “sensible” levels. He said: “If QSs have been hardest hit, it’s only because people have been undercutting each other.”