Britain’s £4.8bn architecture industry is under threat if the Government fails to strike a Brexit deal and could see its EU exports slump by nearly a third, a report has warned.
Research from the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) has cautioned that a disorderly withdrawal from the EU could cut off vital access to talent and put the UK’s position as a global hub for the industry at risk.
It said a “no deal” scenario could decimate the sector’s mammoth contribution to the UK economy, estimating that exports to the EU alone would collapse by 29 per cent.
The impact of lost export earnings from around the world could be £73m a year, the report claimed.
The study comes as the latest warning over the implications of a no deal Brexit, with sectors including the car industry sounding the alarm over the impact of a hard border and tariffs.
Britain’s architectural sector has already been hit by Brexit, with the largest player, Foster + Partners, whose projects include London’s Gherkin tower, axing nearly 100 jobs earlier this year as a result of uncertainty around major builds.
Riba is calling on the Government to take steps to protect Britain’s architecture industry during negotiations.
Ben Derbyshire, president of Riba, said: “Without a Brexit deal that works for UK architecture we risk losing more of our global talent due to increased costs and economic uncertainty.
“A no deal Brexit is not an option; it would be a disaster for UK architecture and our built environment, and the Government must take this option off the table.”
The UK’s architecture sector is particularly exposed to the impact of trade and border changes due to its position as an exporter and its reliance on international talent, according to the report.
Riba is urging the Government to ensure there is a post-Brexit immigration system to allow access to talent worldwide, continued mutual recognition of qualifications across the EU and market access without non-tariff barriers.
It also wants the Department for International Trade to expand its scope to support medium and small sized businesses to expand internationally.
But the research, called Global Talent, Global Reach, said there is potential for growth from new trade agreements outside the EU, with deals struck with the likes of China, the US, India and the United Arab Emirates estimated to be worth at least £54m in its first year.
Alan Vallance, chief executive of Riba, said: “British architects are the most respected and admired in the world, but we can’t take this success and our £4.8bn contribution to UK economy for granted.”