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FM sector remains buoyant despite uncertainty in business environment

Results of FM Business Confidence Monitor 2016 revealed

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The FM Business Confidence Monitor 2016 is available to download from www.bifm.org.uk/BCM.

The outlook of the UK facilities management (FM) sector remains positive overall but it is more cautious in its approach due to external factors affecting the business environment. That is the outcome of the FM Business Confidence Monitor 2016 research released today and conducted by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) in partnership with i-FM.net and Barclays.

The FM Business Confidence Monitor is created from a survey of professionals from the facilities management sector in the UK. It showed that 64 per cent describe the facilities management business environment as ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’. When comparing to the findings from 2015, this is a 6 per cent reduction. However, on digesting all responses and interviews from key representatives of the industry, the major factors behind this are caused by external influences such as the upcoming EU Referendum, the economy, as well as changes to government funding.

With the facilities management sector employing approximately 10 per cent of the UK working population and estimated to be worth £111 billion a year to the UK economy, it is a barometer business performance as a whole.

When considering their own business 38 per cent of respondents say they are confident while 30 per cent indicate that they are slightly more confident in economic growth and performance of their business over the next 12 months compared to 2015.

The respondents’ view of apprenticeships stands out within the findings. When asked if the apprenticeship levy will facilitate more apprentices within their organisation 48 per cent of respondents remain unsure. When asked whether they plan to hire apprentices in 2016 only 35 per cent answered, ‘yes’ compared to 47 per cent in 2015.

While the government and FM service providers speak passionately about the importance of funding these programmes the research suggests there is a disconnect between rhetoric and ambition and the practicalities of delivery.

The survey captures a picture of FM market confidence by canvassing the views of the sector’s senior decision makers as well as the teams on the ground delivering those services throughout the UK. The outcome of this work aims to provide an authoritative forecast of overall business confidence for the next 12 months.

James Sutton, Chief Executive of BIFM, said: “The outlook of the FM industry remains relatively buoyant although it appears to be proceeding with caution until the outcome of the EU Referendum and the effects of new legislation such as the Apprenticeship Levy are fully realised.

“Although the future funding of apprenticeships has been protected by the government, the findings of this year’s FM Business Confidence Monitor also echo the institute’s discussions with employers. This is that there does seem to be a limited understanding of apprenticeships and the full extent of the opportunities and implications they present.

“When used correctly, apprenticeships have the ability to benefit people, organisations and the workforce and therefore society as a whole. As an institute we will be doing more to help support this agenda over the coming months as part of our commitment to raise FM professional standards. We will continue to work with government, key stakeholders and employers so that we can embrace the opportunities that the Apprenticeship Levy offers.”
Simon Iatrou, Editor of i-FM, said: “While the FM industry remains largely optimistic, this year’s report reveals an undeniable ebb in confidence. Factors both new and familiar to FM professionals, from plummeting oil prices to training staff, are responsible for this shift.

Many of these challenges, however, are not unique to FM. By canvassing the opinions of businesses and professionals in the sector, we not only get an accurate picture of the current FM business environment but also a projection of how wider UK industry may fare in 2016.”

Terry Myatt, Relationship Director, Business Services, Barclays, said “We are proud to work with the BIFM and iFM to better understand the challenges facing Facilities Management today. The cautious optimism displayed by the FM sector in this year’s survey results is understandable given the range of uncertainties facing the industry in the short term. However, there are still growth opportunities for those businesses with a clear strategy and who are able to adapt at speed to the changing economic and regulatory environment.”

 

The FM Business Confidence Monitor 2016 is available to download from www.bifm.org.uk/BCM.

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