Practices in the North of England - with a balance figure of +35 - continued to be more positive about future work prospects than those in London, a trend seen since the UK referendum on membership of the EU. Confidence in London practices fell into negative territory (balance figure -3). Large practices (51+ staff) were the most optimistic, with a balance figure of +18, compared with small practices (1-10 staff, balance figure +8) and medium-sized practices (11-50 staff, balance figure +14).
"Commentary from responding practices suggests that the fall in confidence levels in June was largely driven by concern about macro-economic uncertainties, which appear to have been intensified by the General Election outcome and the start of Brexit negotiations, rather than a dramatic change in workloads or the level of project enquiries," commented Adrian Dobson, RIBA Executive Director Members. "Time will tell whether this proves to be a temporary dip or an ongoing trend.
"Meanwhile, the private housing sector continues to be buoyed partly by on-going strength in the bespoke homes and domestic extension market for small practices. Overall, salaried architects appear to remain in demand in the employment market."
The private housing sector forecast dropped significantly, though remains the strongest of the sector forecasts (balance figure +12). The outlook for the commercial sector also dipped (standing at +4 in June), while the public sector (-6) and community sector (-7) fell further into negative territory.
The Future Trends staffing index dropped slightly in June 2017 to +6 (down from +7 in May 2017). Nevertheless 84% of practices expect permanent staffing levels to remain the same or increase in the next quarter.
Large practices and medium-sized practices remain optimistic about increasing staffing levels in the medium-term (balance figures +18 and +21 respectively), with small practices significantly less confident (balance figure +3).