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. You can read recent columns below.

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

APPG report sets the tone for 2023

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

 Under the auspices of a BCC led project, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry published its report last month into the role of cleaning during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has the potential to be one of the most important developments in our sector in 2022/23.

This excellent and comprehensive report, which is informed by expert opinion from across the sector, sets the tone for our industry as we move into the new year.

In summary, the report recommended that:

  • A joint Government-industry preparedness team be set up to draw up a plan for cleaning and hygiene requirements in time of emergency
  • Minimum levels of cleaning materials and equipment most commonly used in emergencies should be defined and their availability ensured
  • Government and the cleaning product supply industry should investigate how to increase production capacity in any pandemic
  • Key frontline worker status must be bestowed upon sector cleaning and hygiene staff and cleaning products production staff in any future pandemic
  • Urgent consideration within The Immigration Act must be given to making cleaning staff eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa scheme
  • A defined set of high-level minimum standards for hand and hygiene infrastructure and the cleaning of diverse venues should be agreed between Government/regulators and the cleaning and building management industry
  • A standard qualification for cleaning should be developed within the Apprenticeship Levy to improve the quantity, quality and career prospects of people entering the cleaning industry
  • Training budgets for cleaning staff within both public and private enterprises should be adequate
  • Government communications about hygienic practice and behaviour in times of pandemic or other emergency to be clear, consistent, sustained, timely, relevant and specific
  • A Government-led communications campaign should be deployed to widen and deepen public understanding of hygiene and establish a norm of adopting hygienic behaviour as part of everyday life.
  • The Government should support the industry to promote a realignment in perceptions of the industry.

If adopted, these measures would make sure the nation is fully-prepared if another public health emergency like the Covid-19 pandemic occurs, which I fear and recognise may only be a matter of time.

They would also be a huge benefit to the industry itself and be a crucial step in transforming the nation’s attitude to cleaning and hygiene. It is essential and arguably a public duty, that Government sit up and take notice of this report.

It is being shared with the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, and an industry roundtable this month will consider how to take forward the findings. The BCC and our partners will continue to highlight and promote the report as a top priority in the immediate future. Watch out for news on that soon.

Another major priority for the BCC in 2023 will be continuing to highlight our We Clean, We Care campaign.

The campaign is designed to reflect the pride cleaning staff have in the vital, frontline role they perform, keeping others safe, well and healthy.

We’ll be continuing to highlight this key message in the media and watch out for us giving out free We Clean, We Care badges at the Cleaning Show, which runs from 14 – 16 March at the Excel, London.

The Cleaning Show, which the BCC co-produces, is the industry’s biggest and best trade show, and will be one of the highlights of 2023 for the sector.

The show offers a chance to see the latest cleaning and hygiene products and to network with colleagues from across the industry, along with a fascinating conference programme and other attractions such as the Cleaning & Support Services Association (CSSA) Innovation Showcase.

All this and it is free to attend! You can register in advance here https://cleaningshow.co.uk/london

The Chartered Practitioners Register (CPR): a standard of credibility for the cleaning industry

Major General Jeremy Rowan CB OBE KHS, Chairman of the Regulatory Authority and an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC) outlines the contribution of the CPR for our industry’s future. (This article was first published by Cleaning and Maintenance in January).

In many professions across various sectors, chartership status is an indicator of the highest levels of professional excellence and commitment. Chartered status in the cleaning industry is new and perhaps requires some explanation. The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners has been ordered by Royal Charter (approved by the Privy Council) to introduce the Chartered Practitioners Register (CPR) for the benefit of the cleaning industry, both in the UK and internationally.

The multi-dimensional nature of ‘environmental cleaning’ is not obvious to the wider audience. Its diversity encompasses a myriad offering, including pest control, building cleaning, human resources, legal services, procurement, manufacturing, research, to staff operative training and management. And these represent just a fraction of the roles involved. The military also invests heavily in environmental health, employing an array of specialised skills with expeditionary application.

The CPR was launched in 2021 and is already attracting some of the brightest and best of the industry. It is still a new feature on the cleaning and FM landscape, and we expect it to evolve further and have a wider regulatory mechanism in the future. To date 36 individuals have completed the requirements or are already on their journey to join the register, and a further 60 plus are showing active interest.

It is important to clarify that being on the Chartered Practitioners Register is not a qualification, but an award that recognises the achievement and excellence of the individual. It signifies that the bearer of the associated post nominals, C Env Cln, has in-depth knowledge, experience, and expertise operating at the highest degree of professionalism in our industry.

There are countless individuals in the cleaning industry who have operated without such formal recognition, with years of expertise behind them. They have helped to develop the UK cleaning industry into the unsung powerhouse that we know today. In the UK alone, cleaning and FM sectors contribute £55.5 billion to our economy, yet this contribution is rarely acknowledged consistently or overtly. We hope that Chartered status will put our industry on a par with Chartered Engineers, Accountants and Financial Planners to name but a few.

The fact that a Royal Charter was granted to the WCEC to launch a Chartered Practitioners Register demonstrates a desire to cultivate better control of standards and recognition in British industry as a whole. The WCEC is therefore very honoured to be the custodian nurturing that desired standard in the cleaning and FM sectors.

To gain entry to the CPR an individual is not required to be a member of the WCEC. The Livery is the facilitator for the register, which is open to anyone who fulfils the entry criteria, both within or outside the UK By welcoming all applicants to the CPR, it helps to raise awareness of the contribution of cleaning professionals, and develop a universal level of respect that the cleaning industry so richly deserves. This was plainly evident on an international scale during the recent pandemic.

There is a prescribed process for individuals to achieve Chartered status. Not all applicants will succeed the first time as the bar is deliberately set high to encourage and reward excellence. Individuals will not undertake this application journey alone as help is available through mentorship and workshops.

If you become a Chartered Practitioner, it is recognition that you are now an ambassador for excellence in our industry. So, if you would like to apply to the Chartered Practitioners Register in Environmental Cleaning, and attain Chartered status, contact CPR@wc-ec.com or visit: https://wc-ec.com/chartered-practitioner/

A clear message

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

As I write this, the APPG for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry is finalising its hugely significant report on the role of cleaning and hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The APPG has heard three sessions of evidence from expert figures during the Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK inquiry. I want to sincerely thank all the industry colleagues who gave evidence.

I can’t pre-empt the recommendations but it is clear to me that this inquiry has the potential to make sure the UK is prepared and ready for another pandemic or new Coronavirus variant – if it is acted on.

A clear message that came out of the hearings is that direction along with cleaning and hygiene should be given top priority in the future, which would be a primary requirement.

The public will be healthier, happier and safer if cleaning and hygiene is recognised as a key, frontline service with a vital role in terms of public health.

I’ve already discussed session one of the inquiry in a previous column so I’m going to focus now on the final two sessions.

Session two saw cleaning service contractors and suppliers and manufacturers of cleaning and hygiene products giving evidence.

I am almost fed up stating that the industry is worth nearly £59bn and employs 1.47 million people, making it a ‘top 10’ employer, with 21 per cent migrant workers compared to an 18 per cent UK average.

We told the inquiry that it was unacceptable that cleaning and hygiene operatives were not recognised as being key workers throughout the pandemic, despite performing a vital, frontline role, which was a symptom of a wider lack of regard for the industry and its role.

Similarly, there is a misperception that the industry is all about ‘mops and buckets’ when there has been a tangible and demonstrable increase in continuous improvement and innovation.

The APPG was told that the cleaning industry had experienced significant difficulties during the pandemic in procuring the materials it needed and was concerned about the degree to which the UK is dependent on overseas suppliers. This allowed profiteering pop-up companies to also cause confusion which must be controlled.

Industry representatives warned that, if not addressed, severe staff shortages in the sector would lead to a reduction in hygiene standards, which would impact on public and commercial hygienic confidence.

The industry loudly reiterated that its members had paid large sums through the Apprenticeship Levy without any true or consistent value benefit, and that accreditation of the proposals for an Apprenticeship Levy funded industrywide training programme and apprenticeship was unequivocally essential.

The session then heard from owners of sites, venues and facilities used by the public and staff that there were sharp differences in cleaning and hygiene practice between neighbouring, similar types of establishments at a time when consistent, high standards should have simplified direction from government as well as provision and increased protection against infection.

They spoke of issues with Government advice on cleaning and hygiene to colleges. Updates were frequent but often delayed, short on detail, reactive and sometimes contradictory, while there is still no specific advice as to what hygiene standards to achieve and what procedures to follow.

The APPG heard that no specific advice or resources were provided in respect of public conveniences. Many were closed during the pandemic, when there was a clear need for handwashing.

The final report will be made available to the public. It will be shared with the UK Covid-19 Inquiry and discussed by an industry roundtable event next year. It is now clear and unequivocal that with the help of all bodies, the government have been duly advised and simply must listen.

The UKHA looks to the future

By Lorraine Dale, National Chair of the Housekeepers Association (UKHA). (This article was first published by Cleaning and Maintenance in December).

The past year has been a challenging one for UKHA. We’ve lost some superb housekeepers, sometimes because they’ve chosen to change their career, but also because others returned to their native country and haven’t come back.

This has been a problem throughout the hospitality industry, but is felt particularly hard in housekeeping, where we have gone from being cleaning heroes and key worker superstars during the pandemic to now regularly struggling to recruit a full team. The industry has a massive shortage of qualified labour in the UK to fill vacancies for roles previously held by those from the EU.

As an association we have encouraged our members to support petitions calling on the Government to allow EU nationals to come to the UK to work in hospitality for up to two years. (Please see our website to sign up).

We also supported the Living Wage Week event ‘The Cost of Living: Tackling Low Pay within Procurement and Service Provision’ and have shared the information with our members via our website.

At the same time, we are looking at various ways to increase our membership and support housekeepers through this difficult time. For all the issues we face, our association is determined to look on the bright side to ensure our cleaning superheroes bounce back.

As the National Chair I’m also aware of the difficulties our regions across the UK are having with hosting regular meetings. We don’t want to put hotel general managers or suppliers under pressure to support us with either free rooms or sponsorship, but without their amazing support we cannot host meetings. Zoom meetings, both regionally and nationally, have been successful in keeping us all in touch. However, moving forward we all want face to face meetings as this allows us to educate, support and develop our future housekeepers.

There is real determination that 2023 is going to be our rebuilding year – not just increasing our membership, but reviewing and updating the constitution, and resetting our aims and goals. To take us on this journey we will hold a development day in January where we can all share ideas and set out our objectives, which will then be shared with our members, followed by regional elections.

And some exciting relationships are being built with a variety of organisations. This will further develop our housekeepers, highlighting the benefits of being a housekeeper and supporting the industry as a whole.

Liana Sparks, the outgoing chair of our London & South East Region, has met with Lakefield Hospitality College. We will work with them on their Academies programme and West Kingsway College will endorse and certify this qualification. We have also reached out to the Hoteliers Charter through Sally Beck (general manager at London Lancaster) for us to partner with them and share good practice, along with working with Jackie Marlow from UK Hospitality and Simon Numphud from AA Media.

These strong links within the industry the UKHA will continue to build on its strong foundations.

Lastly, we have joined the TSA (Textiles Services Association) Project Group. The TSA is the trade association for the textile care services industry, including commercial laundry and textile rental businesses.

I believe that with the TSA support we will ensure our housekeepers have a better understanding of how to manage their linen. We can support and train them in best practice when it comes to laundry and linen stock management.
The TSA are building an interesting sustainability plan which will involve uniforms and linen. We’ll be part of this, which we’ll be able to share with our members.

Finally, I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to regional chairs and their committees, along with our housekeeping members, associate members and general managers for their continued support.

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