The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)'s Future Trends Survey for October 2015 showed a level of caution among UK architects, reflecting a period of slowing growth in the industry. The Future Trends workload index dropped to +18 from last month's mark of +21, showing a decrease in the number of practices that expect their workload to increase in the coming months. All regions of the UK still reported a positive balance though, with the most optimism coming from Northern Ireland with a balance figure of +25, while the most uncertain figures came from the Midlands and East Anglia, where a balance figure of +12 was reported.
The prospects of both small practices remained roughly level compared to last month, reporting a balance figure of +16, while large practices jumped from +25 in September to +58 in October. However, medium-sized practices (between 10-50 staff) reported a significant drop in confidence, reporting a balance figure of +17 this month compared to +55 the month before. By sector, the private housing and community sectors showed slight improvements, reporting figures of +25 (up from +21) and +3 (up from +1) respectively. The commercial sector showed a slight drop, however, standing at +7, down from +13 in September, while the public sector was the only sector expected to contract, remaining unchanged since September at -3.
The Staffing Index also fell back in October, dropping to +9 from +12 the previous month. Large practices again were most optimistic about their future staffing levels, reporting a staffing index of +29, compared to +4 for medium-sized practices and +9 for small practices.
The report also showed that the value of architectural work in progress is 4% higher than this time last year, with practices employing 3% more staff.
“The market for architectural services remains buoyant, but with a clear sense that there has been something of a slowdown in the overall pace of growth in the last few months,” explained RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson. “The 4% increase in the value of work in progress, compared with the equivalent quarter in 2014, shows a continuing very healthy rate of annual growth. This is nevertheless a step down from the rates of 8–10% that we saw consistently throughout 2014 and early 2015, and shows some cooling in the overall market for architectural services.”
The monthly survey is designed to “monitor the employment and business trends affecting the architectural profession throughout the period of economic downturn,” the data from which is analyzed by both the RIBA and the Fees Bureau. It is a “representative sample of the range of different practice sizes and geographical locations” with 1,600 British Architects from 226 firms contributing.
Read the reports in full here.