Latest RIBA Future Trends survey finds optimism strongest in the south

Confidence among practices north of the border remains in the doldrums – but the mood among architects elsewhere in the UK saw confidence about future work surge last month.

The latest RIBA Future Trends index saw the overall score increase from December’s +15 to +29 – the highest mark since last June’s record of +44.

But Scotland continued to lag behind with a score of -25 although this was an improvement on the -50 it recorded for the final month of 2015.

Practices in southern England were most optimistic with a score of +38 – a swing of more than 60 points on the Scotland figure – while firms of all sizes were optimistic about upcoming workloads.

Private housing and commercial work remain the most important areas for architects but confidence in the public sector remained in the black for the second month in a row – January’s score of +7 an increase on the +1 recorded the previous month.

RIBA’s executive director members Adrian Dobson said: “The survey commenced seven years ago and from January 2009 to January 2013 it consistently recorded decreases in the overall value of architectural work in progress.

“However, we have now seen eleven quarters of continual workload growth, which despite some cooling off in its rate is nevertheless still a healthy 3% per annum.”

Practices are now employing 3% more staff than they were in January 2015 and Dobson added: “Whilst a small number of practices have reported recruitment difficulties there does not yet appear to be a clear skills shortage.”