Brexit blamed for sentiment slip in Midlands and East Anglia

Architects across the Midlands and East Anglia have followed their London peers sliding into pessimism about what the future holds.

The two regions have become increasingly despondent about their pipeline of future work, with a lack of clarity around Brexit said to be causing difficulties in the marketplace.

According to the latest RIBA Future Trends survey, sentiment among Midlands and East Anglian practices slipped to zero from +9 in April. While remaining pessimistic, the outlook in London did improve slightly from -7 to -2. Any figure below zero signifies pessimism.

RIBA 66 Portland Place

Source: Philip Vile

RIBA 66 Portland Place

Adrian Malleson, RIBA head of economic research and analysis, said: “Commentary from practices this month continued to reference difficulties caused by the lack of clarity around Brexit. Clients remain cautious, fees are under pressure, and projects are being put on hold or delayed.

“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.”

However, the overall RIBA Future Trends Workload Index remained at +5 in May, the third consecutive month it held steady.

Firms in the north continued their positive run, reporting an index figure of +16, though this was down slightly from +20 in April.

Medium-sized practices, employing between 11 and 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, those with more than 51 staff, showed a significant increase in confidence, returning a balance figure of +20 in May after two months of recording zero.

Meanwhile, the Staffing Index showed a slight decrease to +1, from +4 compared to April 2019.