Index measuring architect workloads falls for third month in a row

The prospects of a double-dip recession have increased in the last month according to the latest survey of architects by the RIBA.

On the eve of what is expected to be the harshest budget in the last thirty years, the RIBA said the number of practices expecting workload to increase dropped from 31% in April to 26% in May, and the number of firms expecting to decrease staff numbers increased from 11% to 16%.

In addition almost a third of staff were personally underemployed in May, compared to just 22% in April. The reduction in workload may in part be due to spending freezes that have operated across much of the public sector since the election was called at the start of April.

Practices were, however, also more pessimistic about the future supply of private housing and commercial work.

Adrian Dobson, RIBA director of practice, said: “This is the third month in a row that the workload index has fallen, perhaps indicating that the architects’ profession is likely to see a double-dip recession. Large practices continue to be the most pessimistic about future workloads, particularly concerning prospects for their public sector work.

“Anecdotal commentary focuses on difficulties in obtaining release of funding from the banks for commercial development, aggressive fee competition and great uncertainty about the effect of public sector spending cuts on the construction industry.”