Infection control remains the focus for local authority building cleaning, report will say

The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) surveys local authority building cleaning services regularly.

Ahead of the publication of the 2024 report on the state of the market, APSE Principal Advisor Vickie Hacking summarised some of the key findings from the upcoming document.

“The value and importance of building cleaning services was recognised during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before this, building cleaning was often regarded as a high-cost item to schools’ and public buildings’ budgets. However, with the sudden dominance of hygiene practices in public health rhetoric, building cleaning took on a new prevalence due to the crucial role it played in preventing the spread of infectious matter.

“Although the focus on Covid has waned as population immunity has grown and the severity of infection has reduced, there are now other diseases impacting the population such as an increased prevalence of measles, which poses a particular risk to children. Therefore, the role of cleaning as an infection control measure is still very much a focus. However, this recognition does not alleviate the challenges faced within the sector.

“The potential for further rationalisation of the public sector estate could decrease service coverage and create issues regarding a loss of economies of scale. Furthermore, the issue of pay and rewards creates additional concerns as the sector competes with the retail and hospitality sectors over workers. This further exacerbates recruitment issues in a job market already saturated with vacancies.

“Pay remains a concern with the National Joint Council pay rise in November 2023, leaving the sector within the sphere of low pay and condensing the differences between public sector pay and lower-paid work in the wider economy. Whilst increases in the national living wage are welcome alongside the payment of a real living wage, the sector is still relatively low-paid and is now competing to fill vacancies within a marketplace where the pay differences have all but disappeared.

“Future apprenticeships, career pathways and the wider benefits of local government as an employer in terms of paid leave, access to a good quality pension, training and so forth will all need to be a focus of future recruitment and retention strategies.”

The report will be published in full on www.apse.org.uk

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