RIBA Future Trends survey for September: caution remains over public sector work

  • Architects remain positive about overall workloads
  • Medium-sized practices the most optimistic about workloads and staffing

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index was unchanged in September 2015, with the balance figure remaining at +21. Practices remain firmly positive about overall workload prospects in the medium term, though with an apparent leveling-off in the rate of growth.

All nations and regions in the UK returned positive balance figures, with practices based in Scotland the most optimistic about future workloads (balance figure +50). Medium-sized practices (11–50 staff), with a balance figure of +56, are more optimistic than either large (51+ staff, balance figure +25) or small practices (1–10 staff, balance figure +15).

The private housing sector workload forecast in September 2015 rose slightly to +21 (up from +18 in August). The commercial sector workload forecast fell very slightly to +13 in September (from +14 in August).

Architects remain cautious over growth in public sector work, with the sector forecast increasing marginally to –3 (from –4 in August); meanwhile, the community sector forecast was unchanged at +1.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index regained ground this month, standing at +12 in September (up from +7 in August). 95% of responding practices expect their permanent staffing levels either to increase or to stay the same over the next few months.

Medium-sized practices are the most positive about future staffing levels (balance figure +48), compared with small practices (+7) and large practices (+25).

September also saw an increase in the proportion of practices expecting to increase their temporary staffing levels over the next quarter. A number of practices have opened offices and/or increased recruitment in Manchester and other northern cities in recent months, further demonstrating the increase in opportunities within the North of England.

RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said:

“Our responding practices continue to paint a picture of a healthy market for architectural services, with more opportunities to negotiate better fee levels and profit margins on projects beginning to rise.”

“However, we have received reports that changes to housing association rent criteria seem to be having an impact on sustainable delivery of affordable housing, particularly affordable rented housing.”


Notes to editors:

1. For further press information contact Callum Reilly in the RIBA press office: 020 7307 3757

2. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members.


Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates

3. Completed by a mix of small, medium and large firms based on a geographically representative sample, the RIBA Future Trends Survey was launched in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.

4. The Future Trends Survey is carried out by the RIBA in partnership with the Fees Bureau. Results of the survey, including a full graphical analysis, are published each month at:

5. To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all returns are independently processed in strict confidence

6. The definition for the workload balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less. A negative figure means more respondents expect less work than those expecting more work. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index, which for September 2015 was +21

7. The definition for the staffing balance figure is the difference between those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and those expecting to employ fewer. A negative figure means more respondents expect to employ fewer permanent staff. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index, which for September 2015 was +12


Posted on Wednesday 28th October 2015

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