In April 2016 the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index fell marginally to +29 (down from +31 in March). Despite this, workloads in April 2016 were 8% higher than those in April 2015. All Nations and Regions returned positive forecasts, with the North of England remaining strong (balance figure +43). Large practices (51+ staff) stood as the most positive (balance figure +71), followed by small practices (1–10 staff, balance figure +28) and medium-sized practices (11-50 staff, balance figure +24).
The RIBA Business Benchmarking survey showed 22 per cent of revenue for RIBA chartered practices is generated from projects outside the UK, compared with 16 per cent in 2013. For large practices, the proportion stands at 32 per cent in 2016.
The private housing sector workload forecast saw the biggest increase in April (rising from to +33 from +28 in March). The commercial sector forecast decreased to +11 (down from +18 in March). Meanwhile, the public sector and community sector forecasts changed little.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index was unchanged, standing at +10. Responding practices reported that permanent staffing levels were 6% higher than twelve months ago.
Large practices were the most optimistic about recruiting new staff, with a balance figure of +71. Medium-sized practices and small practices were less optimistic, though positive overall (with balance figures of +6 and +24 respectively).
RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said:
“The private housing sector clearly remains the key driver of growth. Buoyant housing activity is no longer confined to London and the South East but is widespread throughout the country.
“Workload growth has been strong throughout the last year, and this is the twelfth consecutive quarter in which we have seen rising workloads, as the value of work in progress begins to climb back towards pre-recession levels.
“The past year has also seen strong employment growth. However, there is some way to go before employment levels will attain their pre-recession peaks.”