Biggest slump in optimism among practices across northern England

Architects’ optimism about future workloads waned in the first month of the new year as Brexit and the imposition of a third lockdown took their toll on the profession.

The RIBA’s Future Trends survey said worries about the two sent its overall confidence index down to just +3 last month from +10 in December last year.


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More architects think Brexit will lead to less work in the future

The institute’s head of economic research and analysis Adrian Malleson admitted: “It’s clear that the ongoing uncertainties presented by both Brexit and the third national lockdown are having an impact on confidence.”

This week Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners announced it was setting up a base in Paris to ensure it continued to have friction-free access to its work in Europe which, according to its last set of accounts, amounted to around 20% of its near-£29m turnover in 2018.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU last month, 15% more architects expect it to lead to a decrease in workloads, with worries centring on the access to skilled staff, getting hold of architects from outside the UK and the availability of building materials.

The sharpest fall in optimism came from firms in northern England where December’s score of +29 dropped to just zero the following month.

But the capital stayed in the black for the first time since February last year, albeit with a score +1.

Only practices in southern England posted a negative score, returning a mark of -2 for January compared to +8 in the final month of 2020.

Of the sectors surveyed, only private housing returned a positive score with +9, while the public and commercial sectors slipped back into the red with scores of -4 and -18 respectively.

Large and medium-sized practices remained the most confident but smaller firms were more shaken, slipping back to -2 last month from +4 in December.