The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends Workload Index for June 2012 stands at +2, significantly down from +13 in the previous month. The positive upward trend that had been recorded this year has seen a reverse this month with architects becoming more cautious over future workloads.
The outlook across the UK remains mixed, with London the most optimistic region at +19, while the North of England and Northern Ireland at -19 and -25 respectively are the most pessimistic over levels of work for the next quarter.
The key element in the reduction in overall workload confidence is the private housing sector forecast which stands at -1 for June 2012, down from +16 in May 2012.
"Private housing has up until now remained the most resilient sector, supported by interest rates at historic lows, so the sharp decline in confidence for June could be a cause for concern if it continues," commented Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice.
"Unease about the private housing sector is driving down confidence amongst small practices. It may be a reflection of greater competition for housing work as other sectors continue to remain challenging, or an early indicator that the private housing sector is set to decline. The second scenario would strengthen calls from UK Construction for a more effective Government backed fiscal stimulus plan."
Although the 2012 RIBA / Fees Bureau Employment and Earnings survey has shown some increase in architects' earnings, the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index for June remains consistent at -2 and we are yet to see any recovery in overall staffing levels. In addition to the static staffing level, June 2012 saw the percentage of respondents reporting that they had personally been underemployed rise from 20% in May 2012 to 27%.