Architects remain steady in the face of uncertainty, according to the 2019 May results of the RIBA Future Trends Survey. In May the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index remained at +5 for the third consecutive month.
"Commentary from practices this month continued to reference difficulties caused by the lack of clarity around Brexit," said RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson. "Clients remain cautious, fees are under pressure, and projects are being put on hold or delayed. But some practices seem more optimistic, reporting an increase in inquiries, a resilient domestic sector and a reluctance to acquire work through fee discounting.
"This complex picture suggests an architectural market that is unsure of future workloads. Many practices face significant downward pressure and uncertainty is a common theme."
While practices in London remain pessimistic about future workloads (balance figure -2) and the Midlands and East Anglia slipped to zero (from +9), the North of England continued its positive run (balance figure +16) along with Wales and the West (+8). The South of England remained steady with a balance figure of +3.
In terms of practice size, medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff) remain the most positive, returning a balance figure of +28, and small practices only recorded a one-point fall, down to +2. Large practices (51+ staff) showed a significant increase in confidence, returning a balance figure of +20 in May after two months of recording zero.
The community sector remained pessimistic (returning a balance figure of -4 compared to -2 last month), however the private housing, commercial and public sectors all showed a new level of optimism. The private housing sector workload forecast rose by four points (to +8), the commercial sector rose by five points (to +4) and the public sector recovered from -3 to zero.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index showed a slight decrease to +1, from +4 compared to April 2019.