BCC and member columns in the news

The British Cleaning Council and members write monthly columns for both Cleaning and Maintenance and Tomorrow’s Cleaning magazines. You can read recent columns below.

To read the columns as they originally appeared, please visit https://cleaningmag.com/issues and https://www.tomorrowscleaning.com/back-issues

Sector remains one of the ten biggest according to new research

By Jim Melvin, Chairman of the British Cleaning Council (BCC) (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in May)

We at the BCC released our latest research report at the Manchester Cleaning Show recently and, as always, it is packed with interesting and revealing facts and figures about the cleaning, hygiene and waste industry.

Our annual research reports paint a comprehensive picture of the sector and are essential reading for anyone interested in finding out more about the industry.

Latest figures show that the number of people employed in the cleaning, hygiene and waste sector was 1.47 million, approximately five per cent of the UK workforce, ensuring that the industry remains one of the country’s top ten biggest.

According to the latest information available, the industry contributed £58.9 billion to the UK economy in 2019, up from the previous year. All subsectors, bar landscape service activities, saw a year-on-year growth in turnover up to 2021.

Those are huge numbers and are again an example of why this industry demands to be treated with respect and acknowledgement.

The number of sector businesses grew to 69,005 in 2021 – though this included a number of opportunistic firms which started up during the pandemic offering cleaning services – while turnover increased by 22 per cent from 2015 to 2021, a similar figure to growth in the economy as a whole, further showing the strength of the industry.

These figures suggest that the industry was arguably in good shape as we went into the pandemic in as much as it was growing and maintaining its position as one of the biggest sectors in the UK and continuing to contribute a huge amount to the UK economy.

However, the big caveat is that we do not yet have the more recent figures which will show the full impact of the pandemic immediately and in the longer term, so we should be cautious about drawing too firm conclusions about the condition of the industry today.

The report also highlighted, as expected, that sector staff had been on the frontline in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic throughout, with the current pressures, increased workloads and ongoing uncertainty leaving many exhausted.

The report said that the cleaning and hygiene industry directly employed over 941,000 people in 2021, two per cent less than the previous year. The much higher figure quoted above includes cleaning across other industries such as public services and hospitality.

It is possible that the decline in numbers directly employed by the industry in 2021 is the first sign of the current severe staffing problems. Next year’s report will give a much clearer picture.

In terms of training, the report also highlighted the ‘good headway’ made with the proposal for a Cleaning Hygiene Operative apprenticeship. A repeated request across all areas of the industry is the need for basic, entry level qualifications, the report noted. We expect to have further good news on this in the autumn!

At the Manchester Cleaning Show, industry stakeholders were able to claim a free copy of the report for themselves. If you’d also like a free digital copy, please email us at compsec@britishcleaningcouncil.org

I missed the show thanks to Covid, but I know everyone at the BCC loved being there and again enjoyed the chance to meet industry colleagues face to face and see the latest that the industry has to offer.

There was also huge interest in our new badges emblazoned with the ‘We Clean, We Care’ slogan.

We gave out hundreds of free badges at the show, which are designed to promote the pride the sector has in its vital work.

Thanks to everyone who took one, I hope you will wear it with pride. The We Clean, We Care logo is for the whole of the cleaning and hygiene sector, so we hope to see industry companies and organisations adopting it as well in the coming months.

Being a Living Wage Employer is more important and challenging than ever

Gary Fage, Master of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC), explains how even in a challenging economic climate, being a Living Wage Employer should be a given to support our industry workers. (This article was first published in Cleaning and Maintenance in May)

Our world has experienced such profound changes over the last two years, that we are still reeling. As much as we want to escape from the pandemic, we just can’t. Moreso when it comes to business and the economic fallout of our enforced hibernation. The knock-on effects have impacted our professional and private lives, and it compels us to face the future with as much preparedness as possible.

Yet, we face tests at every turn. In the UK, we are really feeling the economic pinch of stalled supply chains, the Brexit employee drain, the energy crisis and recently, the effects of war on our doorstep. In a climate where every penny really counts, being a Living Wage Employer becomes inexorably, a correct thing to do and the right example to be.

At the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners, commitment to supporting the cleaning industry is our priority and where we can, we take a proactive position. This is why we wanted to show solidarity with our members, who are already campaigning for fair pay for their workforce.

Never before has a Livery Company been named as a Living Wage Employer – the WCEC is the first. We have made it a mission to elevate the perception and standing of the cleaning industry in as many ways as possible, from supporting education and scholarships, funding professional qualification study and foundation courses, and even introducing a Chartership scheme in 2021. There was yet another way in which we could support the wellbeing of our industry, so from February 2022, the WCEC became an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Given recent events, the WCEC really wanted to punctuate its solidarity with colleagues, whose exceptional commitment during the pandemic kept our communities and key industries safe. The cleaning industry didn’t have a break; it was in the fray working steadfastly to keep our built environment clean and hygienic, including, most vitally, hospitals and other medical facilities.

Furthermore, the role of the cleaning industry is often undervalued – this has always been the case, even before coronavirus hit our shores. Cleaning has often been regarded as the unskilled option as far as career choices are concerned. However, conversely, we know that it requires training, dedication, and ongoing professional development. These are all necessary when servicing clients with high expectations and myriad specialised cleaning and hygiene requirements.

As a cleaning industry business owner, I know how much the Living Wage demonstrates that without fair pay, we cannot adequately support or resource our industry. Furthermore, there is an obligation to act fairly and honestly with employees – pay them what they deserve for their hard work. The cleaning industry can be very demanding.

If a business does not act fairly, the ensuing damage jeopardises everything that it holds of value: a skilled workforce, loyalty, stakeholder confidence, reputation and brand integrity. If a large percentage of a sector behaves that way, then overall, its perception will be measured by the practices maintained within it.

That isn’t who we are in the cleaning industry. The very nature of our services implies care, attention to detail, safety and protection. These are not skills upon which to ride roughshod, but a standard to fly as an exemplar component of UK industry.

So, I will always encourage companies in our industry to undertake Living Wage Employer status. The road ahead is going to be tough for a while. However, giving your employees the opportunity to earn according to the true cost of living, shows how much you appreciate their service. After all a company is only as good as its people.


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