The RIBA Future Trends Survey conducted in September 2011 showed that there is a declining expectation of workload increasing. In August there was a positive net balance of +2 in favour of respondents expecting an increase. In September the index fell to -10.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also fell in September, down from -3 in August 2011 to -7. Large practices – those with more than 51 staff – are more inclined to feel able to increase permanent staffing levels over the next quarter than small and medium-sized practices.
The number of architects reporting that they personally had been underemployed during September increased.
There was a fall in the number of architects expecting work levels to grow in the private housing sector – to 15%. Practices expecting workloads to decrease in this sector rose to 21%.
Expectation of work in the commercial sector also fell: 21% predict a decrease, although the number predicting growth remained constant at 16%.
The outlook for public sector workload remained unchanged from August: 29% of practices expect a fall in workload, and 5% predict an increase.
RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson said: “The September results for the Future Trends Survey clearly show that confidence about future workloads overall over the next quarter for UK architects remains fragile, although large practices remain relatively more confident, particularly in the commercial sector, than small and medium-sized practices.
“Although overall demand for architects’ services continues to be very weak in some sectors, anecdotal evidence from the survey suggests that niche markets such as high-end bespoke housing, conservation works and certain healthcare sectors remain resilient.
“Practices based in the south of England remain much less pessimistic than those in other parts of the country, with those in Northern Ireland and Wales and the West currently the least confident about future levels of work.”