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World respected property organisation falls victim to the economic downturn

Staff in the organisation, which has 120,000 members worldwide, are more used to analysing the downturn's effects on the real estate markets rather then being affected by it, but now they are facing redundancy. New recruitment is also likely to be affected.

The company said in a statement that salaries were being frozen at all levels and 18 people would be made redundant as like any business it was not immune from the economic downturn.

'The property and construction sector has been one of the hardest hit by the overall crisis in economic confidence and many chartered surveyors, and the firms that employ them, have had to face up to tough times while also balancing the need to be prepared for market improvement,' said Sean Tompkins, RICS chief operating officer.

'We have informed all staff that RICS itself needs to face up to some short term pain while also being very mindful of the need to be ready for an upturn in market conditions,' he added.

A downfall in revenue is also to blame. RICS revenues come mainly from professional subscription fee renewals which have remained relatively stable but commercial activities such as book sales, advertising, sponsorship and events have all declined.

There has also been a fall in dividends from equities, a reduction in cash deposit rates and income from RICS' investment holdings is also down.

Although RICS membership continues to grow, mainly outside of the UK, Tompkins said the RICS is seeing a decline in the number of new trainees.

Jim Carter, chairman of the Management Board, said that the business has already reduced its operating costs by around 5% over the last year through a more effective prioritisation of activities. 'This decision to make further cuts has not been taken lightly but, like any business, RICS has to reshape to live within its likely financial means while continuing its strategy to be the pre-eminent professional body promoting and protecting standards in the world of land, property and construction,' he added.

Other actions announced by RICS include measures to make greater use of online tools to communicate and network and reduce the cost of face to face meetings. RICS also announced plans to restrict new staff recruitment during the coming financial year.