I wanted to update readers on the progress myself and colleagues are making behind the scenes in promoting the cleaning and hygiene industry’s agenda, such as the need for help dealing with the severe staff shortages facing the sector and our call for improved recognition for sector staff.
We remain disappointed with the lack of engagement with the Government on these key issues.
But despite this, we continue to work hard and push forward our agenda. We are determined to make sure the industry’s voice is heard by decision-makers.
I’m delighted to say that we are expecting positive developments in a number of key areas in the near future.
Firstly, we are hoping for good news later this year on the industry’s bid for the Cleaning Hygiene Operative apprenticeship.
As I write, the proposal for an industrywide Apprenticeship-Levy funded training programme and apprenticeship is soon to be submitted to the approving body, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and we hope they will approve it in the next few months.
We have already progressed much further on this issue than previous bids to set up an apprenticeship, which is very encouraging, and we remain optimistic about success.
If the proposed training programme and apprenticeship gets the greenlight, it will ensure millions of pounds of funding currently lost to the cleaning and hygiene industry every year can be fully invested in training for our teams, which simply has to improve recognition for the skills that sector staff have as well as getting rid of this generic, frankly ridiculous and uneducated narrative about the industry being ‘low skilled’.
It will also remove what is, effectively, a stealth tax on the industry.
Another major issue for us is to make sure the incredible and critical work of the cleaning and hygiene sector and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic is not forgotten and that the industry continues to play a major role in being prepared for and helping to stop any future variant or pandemic.
So, the British Cleaning Council (BCC) is currently leading the establishment of an important and wide-ranging inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, the body of MPs and members of the House of Lords which can advise on and influence policy in this area.
As the secretariat for the APPG, we are working with industry partners and The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) to help set up the inquiry, which will consider the role of cleaning and hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic and what lessons can be learnt with the aim of producing a Government ‘white paper’. We hope this will take place during September and that the findings and recommendations will be fed into the national Covid-19 public inquiry.
We’ve also been reviewing our approach to our lobbying campaign and thinking of which new tactics we can employ.
Until now, we’ve focused on trying to engage with MPs and the Government but, for the first time, we’ve also recently written to opposition political parties, including Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, in the hope of engaging them with our agenda and educating them about the essential work of the cleaning and hygiene sector.
It’s too soon yet to say what the result of this is, but I am hopeful that they will be receptive.