The British Cleaning Council and members write monthly columns for both Cleaning and Maintenance and Tomorrow’s Cleaning. You can read recent columns below.
Introduction from the new BCC Chair
By Delia Cannings, British Cleaning Council Chair (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in August).
I was delighted and honoured to be elected as the new Chair of the British Cleaning Council (BCC), taking over from my colleague and friend, Jim Melvin, who had served for two years.
My Deputy Chair is the very capable David Garcia, who has been one of the leading figures in the cleaning and hygiene industry for a number of years.
First things first, I’d like to recognise Jim for his incredible work at the helm of the BCC.
Jim is a passionate and committed champion of the industry and has worked energetically and resolutely in the interests of the industry, the BCC and our members. No-one could have done more to make the voice of our industry heard loud and clear.
This is all despite the fact that during much of Jim’s time in office, the nation was still feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
From being elected in 2021, Jim drove the work of the sector’s All Party Parliamentary Group and the lobbying campaign for the recommendations in its report from last year to be accepted in full by the Government. I am delighted to say that he will continue to lead on APPG work.
Jim repeatedly called for cleaning operatives to be recognised and supported by the Government, particularly following their brave work during the pandemic. To drive this message home, the BCC launched the ‘We Clean, We Care’ campaign last year.
He also prioritised the push for an Apprenticeship-Levy funded Apprenticeship Standard for cleaning staff, which we hope could be approved later this year.
Jim kept the industry and the BCC in the spotlight by making a significant number of high-profile media appearances and interviews. Thank you Jim.
Now let me tell you a bit about myself. I have worked in the sector for 45 years, in the public, private, cleaning, health, hospitality, commercial, education and training sectors and I am an enthusiastic supporter of the vital, frontline work done by our wonderful staff and industry.
I am passionate about championing education and training in the sector. The company I set up, Environmental Excellence Training & Development Ltd, has trained hundreds of cleaning staff particularly in healthcare, hospitality and commercial cleaning. I am very proud to have taught many of the cleaning industry’s leaders over the years.
I’m also the National Lead for Education and Training for BCC member the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp) and Chair for the UK Housekeepers Association (UKHA), Midlands Committee.
I will continue with existing BCC priorities, while refocusing our efforts and energy on the battle for serious recognition for our cleaning workforces.
Education and training in the sector will be another focus. I believe that there should be an entry-level qualification for cleaning staff.
Getting the greenlight for the Apprenticeship Standard is also vital. The industry is crying out for it and it will unlock millions of pounds for our sector to invest in staff training. These two initiatives, together with the Chartered Practitioners Register run by the Worshipful Company of Environment Cleaners (WCEC), will help put the industry on a professional footing and create a career ladder to attract new entrants with clear pathways available for progression routes.
I will also campaign for the Government to allow Apprenticeship Levy funding paid by businesses to be invested in industry initiatives rather than being lost to the sector.
I am very pleased to have the support of David Garcia, who is Treasurer and Vice-President of BCC member the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) and was the founder and former Chairman of Polaris Plastics, for my next two years.
David brings valuable experience, knowledge and understanding of the cleaning industry and, alongside our BCC colleagues, we will focus on solidifying the work already completed and pursue further development for betterment of the industry.
Introduction from the new BCC Chair
By Delia Cannings, British Cleaning Council Chair (This article was first published by Cleaning and Maintenance online).
I was honoured to be elected in July as new Chair of the British Cleaning Council.
As Deputy Chair of the BCC for the previous two years and also a very active member of the cleaning and hygiene industry for 45 years, I am convinced that it is vital that we in the sector must work together through the council if we are to make our voice heard.
I have worked across the public, private, cleaning, health, hospitality, commercial, education and training sectors and am involved with both the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp) and UK Housekeepers Association (UKHA), so I have seen how important our work is and yet how it is chronically undervalued by Government.
The cleaning, hygiene and waste industry is one of the biggest in the UK, worth £59bn. Our professional and skilled cleaning staff carry out a vital role keeping the public healthy, safe, and well, and it is essential that this is recognised by those outside the industry.
People think of us as ‘just cleaners’ but in fact we are ‘environmental ninjas’, as I like to call them, a role which needs knowledge and skill and has a huge impact on the environment, the economy and people’s lives and wellbeing.
I’ve seen firsthand the huge dedication and drive of people in this industry in normal times and, throughout the pandemic, watched heroic colleagues working tirelessly, relentlessly, and passionately caring, covering long hours at the frontline, often putting themselves at risk to protect others.
So the campaign for recognition for the sector and its staff, which my inspirational forerunning as Chair, Jim Melvin, worked so hard on, will continue to be a vital part of our work going forward.
As part of this, we will relaunch the ‘We Clean, We Care’ campaign and continue the drive to lobby MPs to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.
I want to thank the hundreds of people who have supported the lobbying campaign so far.
If you haven’t, we really need your support, please get involved. It will only take a few minutes to download the letter from our website and email it to your MP. Find out more by scanning the QR code.
A key strand of our work with the Government is the sector’s All Party Parliamentary Group. Despite the immense and determined efforts of the BCC so far, the APPG has not developed as much as we would have liked. High on my agenda is the need to revitalise it, and I am delighted that Jim has agreed to continue to support this important strand of our work.
I am also passionate about education and training in the sector – a passion that led me to found Environmental Excellence Training & Development, which has in turn trained hundreds of staff in the healthcare, hospitality, and commercial cleaning sectors, including many of the cleaning industry’s leaders over the years.
Education and training in the sector will be a key focus for me as Chair of the BCC going forward. As part of that, we are hoping that the Apprenticeship Standard for the industry will be signed off later this year, ready for a launch early in 2024.
Together with the Chartered Practitioners Register run by the Worshipful Company of Environment Cleaners (WCEC), the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship will form a key rung in creating a career ladder for the sector, which will help attract the new entrants our industry needs, as well as helping teach essential technical skills. Pathways to progression will be embedded making career opportunities within the sector attractive .
It will also allow the millions of pounds spent by larger sector companies on the Apprenticeship Levy, which currently goes to the Government, to be invested in training and developing staff. I believe it is essential that businesses are allowed to invest their money in their industry.
Assuming it does win approval, launching the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship and encouraging businesses in the industry to take it up will be a key priority in the coming months.
I’ll be supported over the next two years by the very capable David Garcia, who has been one of the leading figures in the cleaning and hygiene industry for a number of years.
David is the Treasurer and Vice-President of BCC member the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) and was the founder and former Chairman of Polaris Plastics.
He brings valuable experience, knowledge and understanding of the cleaning industry and, alongside our BCC colleagues, we will focus on solidifying the work already completed and pursue further development for betterment of the industry.
Finally, I can’t sign off without thanking Jim, my predecessor, for his sterling work over the last two years.
Jim is a passionate and committed champion, a consummate professional of the industry and has worked energetically and resolutely in the interests of the industry, the BCC, and our members. No-one could have done more to make the voice of our industry heard loud and clear.
Thank you Jim. I’m delighted that he has agreed to stay on to help with our work around the APPG.
Farewell from BCC Chairman Jim Melvin
By former BCC Chairman Jim Melvin (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in July).
The end of my two-year spell as Chairman of the British Cleaning Council is in sight and in a couple of weeks a new Chair will be elected.
I am immensely proud to have led the BCC and represented this fantastic industry and its excellent workforce.
It is incredible to think that, when I took office in July 2021, the nation was still fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Against this background, the cleaning and hygiene sector’s exceptional and selfless colleagues bravely worked on the frontline putting themselves at risk to keep buildings and public areas clean and keep others safe, largely without ever being recognised as key workers. They were clearly frontline workers as who else got the buildings ready for the keyworkers to be safer?
Not one politician has ever been able to answer that question with any form of rebuttal.
Even though Covid isn’t as prevalent now, our staff still have a vital role in protecting the public from communicable infections. There are 218,00 reasons to learn from this pandemic.
We have called for the Government to recognise the massive contribution of the sector and its staff, despite the impact of significant staff shortages, repeatedly during my time in office.
So, when the Sue Gray report last summer revealed how appallingly cleaning staff were treated by No 10, we were outraged. I wrote several times to the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to ask to meet to discuss the cultural and social acceptance changes required but obviously he had more important ‘work meetings’ to attend!
Supporting the sector’s All Party Parliamentary Group has been a major priority and I’m proud to look back on the two significant reports which have been delivered, both highlighting the need for Government to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.
I would again call for readers to support our lobbying campaign on this issue. If you haven’t already done so, please consider sending a letter in support of the APPG report to your local MP. You can find out more on the BCC website.
We in the industry simply must take action, both personally and collectively, as we need to work together to make sure our voice is heard.
Another major priority of mine has been to drive the bid for an industry-wide Apprenticeship Levy funded Apprenticeship.
The Apprenticeship Standard would potentially make millions of pounds available every year for companies to invest in staff training, as well as being an important rung in the career ladder and helping address the ridiculous and inaccurate narrative ignorantly repeated by some who should know better that cleaning staff are unskilled.
The industry team behind the current proposal have done excellent work and we’ve progressed it further than ever before, but the approving body is frankly dragging its feet. I am frustrated at these delays. We must have it approved soon and I have contacted the Shadow Education team to discuss.
Another significant piece of work was the 2022 research report, which cemented the cleaning, hygiene and waste industry’s position as one of the ten biggest industries in the UK, worth £59bn and employing 1.47m people.
And, finally, I’ve been thrilled to see the Cleaning Show get back to full-strength in the wake of the pandemic.
During my tenure as Chairman, I’ve been supported by an excellent team, including Deputy Chair Delia Cannings, Company Secretary Simon Hollingbery, Jason Grimsley (PR) and all the BCC’s directors and associations, and I truly want to thank everyone for their fulsome support and assistance.
I will continue to assist the BCC as appropriate. I absolutely wish the new BCC Chair and Deputy the very best for their term in office, which I know will be in safe hands that share the same passion and desire that our industry is not only heard, but recognised for the undoubted skills, professionalism and expertise that we bring.
Farewell to the BCC
By former BCC Chairman, Jim Melvin (This article was first published by Cleaning and Maintenance online).
In July 2021, I took up the position as Chairman of the British Cleaning Council (BCC) with the primary aim to continue and indeed drive the BCC strategy of changing the national view of cleaning and hygiene by seeking to gain recognition from the government with and through the industry All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)
In doing so, our aim was to bring our £59 billion industry, employing 1.5 million staff, together to ensure that its position as a major UK employer, and the BCC’s role as the voice of our fantastic and professional workforce, was not only heard, but wholly recognised.
Firstly, it is our role to remember and celebrate the actions from every member and association within the BCC alongside the positive commitment from all of our brave cleaning and hygiene professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic.
These include but are not limited to operatives, drivers, manufacturers, chemists, waste operatives, distributors, maintenance engineers and many, many more. We must simply refuse to let their actions be forgotten.
The main concern for me remains the cultural view within government and indeed throughout the UK, that our industry is ‘low skilled’. This uneducated narrative is frankly insulting, and my overriding hope is that when the Apprenticeship Standard is finally and deservedly awarded to the industry, it will hopefully put an end to those who continue to promote this risible nonsense.
In terms of advancement, I feel that:
1- We have been part of a change force with the ‘Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK’ project which has seen us become part of the government Covid 19 inquiry.
2- We now have relationships through the APPG with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and specific departments within the Home Office, The Royal Society for Public Health and other APPGs such as Business Resilience.
3 – We are now working towards a potential change in Government and we are looking into our opportunities to attend and take part in hygiene discussions at the Labour Party conference. We simply have to produce more interaction with the government of the day, and we are working hard to achieve a higher level of traction.
4-We have commenced the media and publicity campaign under the banner headline ‘We Clean, We Care’ and whilst it has played the part it was designed to do, I do feel that the industry should back this more.
5-In terms of media, we have promoted the BCC and the industry in both the national and FM media.
However, I also have disappointments in that the APPG should have achieved more. It was not for the want of trying or persistence.
However, no one said it wouldn’t take time to change people’s views, and I always felt that this was a BCC legacy piece that will continue to be driven forward.
I have so many people to thank, who have been hugely supportive and done so much more than I could have reasonably expected.
These include, but are not limited to, Stephen Kerr, Nigel Mills, Simon Hollingbery, Paul Thrupp, Jason Grimsley, Phillip Morrish, Mike Stubbs, David Garcia and many others. Thank you all so much.
I am also exceptionally proud of the Apprenticeship Trailblazer team who have worked so hard in difficult circumstances.
I now pass over to the new Chair in Delia Cannings who has been of outstanding support to me and the BCC in general. Delia will be a hugely successful leader, with drive, passion and experience. I wish her luck and will be happy to assist if required.
It has been a huge honour and privilege to be Chairman of the British Cleaning Council and I genuinely hope that we have assisted the associate members and the industry.
Housekeeping and hospitality in recruitment crunch
Delia Cannings, Deputy Chair, UKHA Midlands Committee, reports.(This article was first published by Cleaning and Maintenance online).
During these summer months, the hospitality industry faces an even more difficult struggle with vacancies than earlier in the year. The number of UK job vacancies are currently running at an exceptionally high level and have been for some while.
Hospitality businesses are among the worst hit by this recruitment crisis. Figures from the Office for National Statistics from May 2023 show a staggering 132,000 vacancies in the sector, 48 per cent higher than pre-Covid levels.
And seasonal requirements mean that hospitality businesses are more than twice as likely as other industries to be experiencing challenges in filling vacancies compared with normal expectations for this time of year. This means that finding cleaning and housekeeping staff is a major headache for our hotels, pubs and restaurants.
Even before the pandemic the hospitality sector had been facing significant issues with finding cleaning and housekeeping staff. The industry had a reputation for high levels of employee churn, a lack of skilled staff and a poor reputation on hours, so there was a constant chase for talented employees. When Brexit and the pandemic happened, they had a much larger effect than in some other sectors with one in five workers leaving hospitality, according to some figures.
With many staff in the sector traditionally coming from overseas, many were migrant workers returning home. Many of those furloughed during the pandemic also rethought their career choices. So now, hospitality employers are faced with the immense task of having to quickly restaff and reskill their workforce, drawing from a fragile and fragmented labour market. Some former staff do not want to return because they felt they were viewed as a number on a spreadsheet and were let go with what felt like ease during the pandemic. Some potential new joiners are being put off as they believe there are no clear career progression routes or opportunities in hospitality, and it is low paid with a great deal of workplace stress. There are plenty of other openings to choose from.
So now we have an industry where guests expect more, and we have less staff to provide the service. We need to be developing a new generation of hospitality professionals and investing in their education and development, whilst not forgetting to offer these opportunities to our existing staff. This will ensure that the industry can maintain sustainability by pushing forward with continued education, development and career growth to maximise potential and optimise output.
I believe employers need to be considering a whole new suite of initiatives to attract and retain staff, such as:
- Identifying clear progression routes across all the disciplines.
- Development plans linked to accredited training qualifications.
- Reviewing and implementing competitive salary scales.
- Introducing contracted hours with paid overtime.
- Working hours allowing for a meaningful work life balance.
- Developing innovative recruitment strategies featuring virtual events and social media
- Rewarding current staff for ‘recommending’ new joiners
- Developing an approach to attract leavers back to the industry.
- Implementing wellbeing programmes to support staff and improve retention.
- This situation is offering us an opportunity to radically reshape what we do and how we do it.
- We have already identified the negatives, so let’s move forward and showcase the skill, passion and innovation that we in hospitality have in abundance.
Our aim should be to create a reforming, innovative industry that potential employees are scrabbling to get into, rather than scrabbling to leave. I would also appeal to colleagues in the housekeeping and wider cleaning sector to support the work of the British Cleaning Council and, in particular, back our campaign to lobby MPs to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.
Please visit the BCC website – www.britishcleaningcouncil.org – and scan the QR code to find out how to support the campaign, it should only take a few minutes of your time. Thank you.