RIBA Future Trends survey shows post-referendum volatility

In August, the RIBA Future Trends workload index rose after suffering in the first month following the UK referendum on membership of the EU.

Despite rising into positive territory in August, with a balance figure of +8, the index remains significantly lower than in the first half of the year.

Practices based in London were the least optimistic, predicting a decrease in architectural workloads (balance figure –6). Practices in the North of England, East Anglia and the Midlands were notably more positive.

Large practices (51+ staff) were more anxious about sustaining workloads over the next three months, with a balance figure of –17; small (1–10 staff) and medium-sized (11–50 staff) practices were more optimistic.

The private housing sector remained the strongest of the sector forecasts, with a balance figure of +7. The forecasts for the commercial, community and public sector stayed in negative territory.

The RIBA Future Trends staffing index increased slightly, standing at +7 in August (up from +4 in July). Small and medium-sized practices expected staffing levels to increase in the medium-term; large practices were more cautious, returning a balance figure of zero.

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said:

“Commentary from participating practices is still being driven by Brexit-related uncertainty. A small number of practices have again reported projects cancelled or postponed as a direct or indirect result of the referendum outcome. It is likely that the workload index will remain volatile as the full implications of the UK’s changing relationship with the EU emerge.”