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

Sign up to an AAG Zoom workshop today!

By British Cleaning Council Chair, Delia Cannings. (This article was first published by Cleaning and Maintenance online).

If your company has a wage bill of over £3m annually, then it already pays 0.5% annually in compulsory Apprenticeship Levy payments.

Since the levy’s introduction in 2017, many cleaning and hygiene companies have seen this money go straight to the Government instead of being used for training staff because there was no apprenticeship standard suitable for many sector firms.

We estimate up to £20m of our sector’s cash has drained away in this fashion every year.

Now the Cleaning Hygiene Operative (CHO) Apprenticeship (Level 2) has been approved, providing a route for larger firms to divert these payments to invest into staff. Smaller firms can also use gifted – or transferred – levy payments to fund the initiative in their workplaces.

The funding band – the amount of levy money a business can spend on training and assessing an apprentice – has been agreed at a generous £5,000 each, allowing for good, quality training.

If you want to know more, then sign up for one of the free Apprenticeship Advice and Guidance sessions we are holding on 19, 26 October and 2, 9 and 15 November.

We are welcoming anyone interested in the scheme, not just employers.

These free, 30-minute long, expert-led sessions will be held via Zoom workshops so it is ultra-easy to take part – just book with us in advance. The information sessions will tell you how to be ready for the launch of the scheme, which is expected early next year.

Topics will include:

• How to access the opportunity – IE how to select a provider and agree the delivery plan. The format might include face-to-face to group sessions, observations and functional skills – Maths and English options
• How to select a provider – credentials, experience and location are all important.

• How to gift Levy funds and the benefits of gifting

• An overview of the End Point Assessment (EPA)

• Tips for a successful EPA for apprentices will be provided by an industry experienced assessor.

• Next steps and the way forward

Sessions should be booked via admin@britishcleaningcouncil.org.

This is a brilliant opportunity for our industry. Training and education is essential in our sector.

Staff need to be taught to clean first, disinfect later, to handle chemicals, to understand the classification of various soil types, sound awareness of the contribution the sector can make to the green agenda as well as the increasingly imported role of technology and digital platforms.

This scheme has the potential to share knowledge of these kinds of skills among the workforce and educate them to the correct standard, driving the professionalisation of the sector.

The CHO Apprenticeship will help tackle ignorant and unfounded perceptions of people outside the cleaning and hygiene sector that the work of staff is ‘unskilled’. We in the industry know how wrong this is and that it is essential to correct this misapprehension.

The apprenticeship will also form part of a career ladder, that will be key to attracting the new joiners we urgently need.

We need to encourage its widespread take up. I believe the Government will be watching to see how popular the CHO Apprenticeships are and there is a risk the scheme could be withdrawn if there are too few takers.

Our sector fought long and hard to get approval for the CHO, and we do not want to put it at risk. Therefore, I urge you to sign up for an upcoming AAG session and support our battle for cleaning workforce recognition through education and training.

Employers urged to attend Apprenticeship Zoom workshops

By British Cleaning Council Chair, Delia Cannings.  (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in October).

As I announced in this column last month, proposals for the Cleaning Hygiene Operative (CHO) Apprenticeship (Level 2) have been approved and the launch is expected early next year.

Starting this month, the British Cleaning Council will be hosting a series of short, free, expert-led AAG (Apprenticeship Advice and Guidance) Zoom workshops to explain what the Apprenticeship Standard for the cleaning and hygiene sector means for businesses and how to implement it in the workplace.

Managers who may want to introduce CHO Apprenticeships into their business, as well as any interested staff members, are strongly encouraged to sign up and take this chance to find out about it first-hand.

The Zoom sessions will be very useful for larger businesses making compulsory Apprenticeship Levy payments which may want to divert those payments into Apprenticeships instead, as well as for smaller businesses to find out how to use gifted/transferred Levy payments to take part.

AAG sessions are planned for:

• 12, 19, 26 October

• 2, 9 and 15 November

Topics will include:

• What are the benefits to organisations and individuals in engaging and taking the Apprenticeship qualification?

• How to access the opportunity – explaining Levy funding

• How to gift Levy funds and the benefits of gifting

• How to select a provider – credentials, experience and location

• Delivery format – mediums to study, assessment and functional skills requirements

• Curriculum content and routes to progression

• End Point Assessment (EPA) criteria

Please visit britishcleanigncouncil.org to book a place.

The CHO Apprenticeship scheme will bring huge benefits to sector businesses and the industry, so it is essential that we encourage it to be as widely adopted as possible.

I am pleased to reassure employers that the CHO funding band – that is, the amount of Levy payments you can spend on training and assessing an Apprentice – is generous and very welcome. It is much higher than proposed in previous Apprenticeship bids and will allow for good, quality training.

CHO Apprentices will need to pass numeracy and literacy tests and I think that aspect needs to be carefully considered to avoid some trainees failing the course unnecessarily.

Regarding these functional skill concerns, providers should be encouraged to contextualise numeracy and literacy around the dilution of cleaning agents, cost in use of cleaning consumables, productivity rates, COSHH, risk assessments and standard operating procedures to name a few options.

Embedding this contextualised model throughout the duration of the Apprenticeship and avoiding end-loading the functional skills will increase successful completions. Experience has taught me that learners thrive when they are comfortable with learning matter they can relate to.

On another note, I have written to the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak personally about our campaign for cleaning and hygiene to be made a national priority.

The industry has been calling for months for the Government to accept in full the 11 recommendations made in last year’s report by the sector’s APPG, entitled Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK.

The measures would make the UK much more resilient to current common infections such as Covid variants or flu and also better prepared for future public health emergencies – like a future pandemic.

I believe that putting cleaning and hygiene at the heart of the national agenda will undoubtedly save lives.

Thank you to the more than 500 industry members who have joined the campaign and written to their MP.

But surely in an industry of around 1.47m members, we can find more support?

So if you haven’t taken part, please, please, please visit the BCC website to find out how to get involved. It might save someone’s life.

The inconvenient truth about public conveniences

By Vickie Hacking, Principal Advisor, Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE). (This article was first published by Cleaning and Maintenance online).

A survey of local councils has found over 50% of respondents report public toilets provision has decreased in the last ten years.

The survey, conducted by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), highlights that due to the pressure on local authority budgets, there has been a decline in the provision provided by councils over this last decade. However, there is a strong case to be made for retaining public conveniences. Whilst respondents in the service report that they do not make a profit from their public toilets, the additional income to local economies, of “good toilet provision has been shown to increase retail turnover, tourist numbers and economic growth” according to Professor Clara Greed of the University of the West of England.

The responses from the survey show that over half of the respondents (54.02%) report that council provision has decreased or significantly decreased since 2012. By comparison, only 18.39% report that provision has increased or significantly increased in 2023. 25.29% of those surveyed report that the facilities provided have remained the same.

Just over a third of respondents report their authority is currently undertaking a review of provision. Budgetary pressures were stated as being the main driver of these reviews, with over half of respondents stating this to be the case in 2023, an increase from 40.30% in 2022.

Adaptation and strategies

Local councils worked very hard to adapt to the changing guidance throughout the pandemic so as to ensure public toilets remained open for key workers. Furthermore, when Covid restrictions were lifted, and people were utilising local parks, beaches and tourist attractions, local authorities worked just as hard to ensure there was provision available and the changing guidance was adhered to.

Based on the survey findings, APSE recommends that councils develop a clear strategy for their public conveniences, taking into consideration the local need and the future sustainability of the facilities. Local authorities should also explore methods of financing public conveniences such as charging or introducing complementary services such as café facilities, particularly with the roll-out of electric charging points in remote areas which require users to spend time in a location. Other options such as asset transfers to communities or town / village councils, comfort schemes that pay local businesses, or providing facilities in existing council buildings for use by the public (e.g., libraries, sports centres) should also be considered.

Recent press reports have highlighted the issues of so-called ‘wild toileting’ and the impact this has on local areas. Once such report in the Guardian – which cites APSE research – notes that ‘wild toileting’ can feel “threatening to a lot of women, and to men too”. This growing trend in ‘wild toileting’ would strongly suggest that, should public toilet provision continue to dwindle, this kind of unpleasant and anti-social behaviour will likely increase.

The provision of safe, clean and accessible facilities ensures that people with disabilities, pregnant women and older people who need regular access to toilets can have the confidence to visit the town centre, park or tourist attraction. For others in the community, it can encourage them to stay longer in the area.

It is important to ensure that consideration of public conveniences is an integral part of local place-based strategies, including the feasibility of walking and cycling routes, tourism developments and when considering a holistic approach to encourage physical activity in areas of green space and public realm.

The full survey and accompanying analysis – Local Authority Public Conveniences Provision 2023 – is available to download for free from the APSE website here. 

For more information on this survey, please contact Vickie Hacking, APSE Principal Advisor, on vhacking@apse.org.uk

Delighted to see Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship approved

By British Cleaning Council (BCC) Chair, Delia Cannings. (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in September).

I was thrilled last month to hear that the proposed Apprenticeship Standard for the cleaning and hygiene industry had finally been approved.

I think the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship will be a major and valuable contribution to the future success of the cleaning and hygiene sector. Accessible learning for all funded by the Apprenticeship Levy pot is a first of its kind and long overdue. My BCC colleagues and I are delighted to share the progress to date.

It has been a huge, complicated and at times frustrating piece of work for the team who have led on it, and has taken much, much longer than expected, so it was hugely exciting when we finally heard that it had been given the greenlight.

We have to give a massive vote of thanks to Lauren Kyle, Karen Slade, and their team, who have worked exceptionally hard on this to get it over the line and thank you also to the employers and many colleagues who have also given their support.

I can’t overstate how important the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship is in terms of addressing the sector’s recruitment issues, helping with succession planning and supporting the professional development of our staff.

Providing uniform, industry-wide training in the technical skills staff need will also help win wider recognition for the vital, skilled work that the sector’s personnel do with pride and professionalism.

With such an important role in keeping the public healthy, safe, and well, particularly during the turbulence caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and with the risk of another such pandemic in the future, it is vital that this training programme is put in place.

There are also considerations around handling chemicals, understanding the differences between cleaning and disinfecting, the contribution the sector can make to the green agenda and the increasingly important role of technology, all of which need to be catered for.

The Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship is different to the Healthcare Cleaning Operative Apprenticeship launched in 2020 and, although it will contain some related aspects, it will be linked more closely with the commercial sector of the cleaning industry.

The cleaning, hygiene and waste sector is one of the biggest in the UK, worth £59bn and employing 1.47m people, so it is only right that the cleaning and hygiene sector has an Apprenticeship Standard like the waste industry and many other industries.

All employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million put around 0.5 per cent towards the Apprenticeship Levy.

Therefore, every year, millions of pounds of Levy funding paid by cleaning and hygiene businesses has been lost because there hasn’t been a relevant Apprenticeship for many employers to invest in.

From early next year, industry employers will be able to divert this Apprenticeship Levy funding and invest it in their staff instead of paying it into Government coffers. Many employers may not even realise they are paying into the levy.

We can give employers the right tools to set up Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeships and invest into their staff.

So the next stage involves spreading the news far and wide in order to encourage as many cleaning and hygiene sector employers as possible to be ready to offer the Apprenticeship in their workplaces when it is launched, which we hope will be in January next year.

As part of that, we will be announcing an AAG (Apprenticeship Advice and Guidance) programme of short, expert-led Zoom information sessions for employers, starting in October, where they can find out what the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship means for them and how to implement it in their workplace.

We will be sharing details of the sessions through the cleaning and hygiene trade press, via the British Cleaning Council website (https://britishcleaningcouncil.org) and the BCC’s social media channels.



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