Architects show caution as General Election approaches

ribaConfidence in public sector projects has fallen within the architectural sector due to uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the General Election, according to the latest forecasts from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The latest RIBA Future Trends Workload Index for February 2015 has seen Government work forecasts drop to +1 (down from +6 in the previous month).

The private housing sector remains the most positive workload forecast within RIBA’s predictions, although the +27 figure has dropped six points since January. Commercial sector workloads remain firmly in positive territory at +15, while community sector levels have remained stable at +5.

The overall RIBA Future Trends Workload Index fell back slightly overall in February, standing at +26 compared with +29 in January. Workload forecast balance figures remain positive in all UK nations and regions, with the Midlands and East Anglia (+43) leading the pack, closely followed by Wales and the West (+39).

Confidence remains strongest among medium and large sized practices of 11-50 and 50+ members of staff respectively, with smaller firms (1-10 staff) also remaining positive although to a lesser extent. However, expectations of staff levels have decreased particularly within small businesses, while medium-sized companies are currently the most confident about their ability to sustain higher staffing levels in the medium term.

Adrian Dobson, director of practice at RIBA, said:

“It is positive to see the nationwide recovery in workloads continuing. Practices of all sizes remain confident about future prospects for private housing and commercial work. The fall in the public sector forecast may reflect increased uncertainty about short and medium-term public sector capital spending commitments ahead of the forthcoming General Election.

“Despite the recent sustained period of growth in workloads, practices remain cautious about increasing overall staffing levels too quickly.

“Overall, results continue to suggest growing demand for architects’ services. Nevertheless, there are widespread reports of intense fee competition in many sectors and profit margins remain tight for a large number of practices.”

To read the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index, click here

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