Nine in ten planning consultancies furloughing staff and two-thirds cutting pay, latest survey finds

More than nine in ten planning consultancies are now furloughing staff in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, while more than two-thirds have introduced both temporary pay cuts and a recruitment freeze, according to Planning's latest survey.

To gauge how the Covid-19 crisis has affected consultancies, we once again polled the firms with the 40 biggest planning teams according to the 2019 Planning Consultancy Survey (see pie charts at bottom of article).

We had previously surveyed the same consultancies in early April, shortly after the lockdown restrictions were introduced.

Twelve of the 13 respondents said they have taken up the government's job retention scheme, under which it has agreed to pay 80 per cent of an employees' income up to a monthly maximum of £2,500. This compares to 11 in our early April survey.

The average response, according to those firms that provided information, has been to furlough 15 per cent of their planning staff.

Nine out of 13 firms have announced or are intending to introduce temporary pay cuts, compared to seven in our earlier survey, while nine companies have also frozen recruitment. However, none have yet to make people redundant.

Meanwhile, nine of 13 consultancies reported that their workload has dropped, which are similar results to our previous survey in early April.

While three firms in the latest study said clients have cancelled commissions, ten said this has not happened and that most clients are opting to pause projects instead. In contrast, last month's research found that seven out of 13 firms said clients had cancelled work.

But the overwhelming majority of planning consultancies, 12 out of 13, expect the lockdown to reduce their volume of work for the rest of this year.

And about a third of firms say fee levels have dropped since the pandemic struck.

Full details of the survey on staffing and pay can be found here and on workloads and fee levels here.

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