The British Cleaning Council have issued their 2021 Research Report.
The cleaning industry is one of the largest industry employers in the UK. 636,300 are employed to provide daily cleaning services to buildings.
There are 4,100 businesses in the sector employing 11 or more people.
The Effect of the Pandemic
Covid-19 represents a turning point in the industry with greater national awareness and recognition that cleaning and sanitising is essential for the UK to re-open and stay that way.
45% of AMB UK research survey respondents said that visibility of cleaning in progress would encourage them to return to work in offices after the pandemic.
Despite that and the formation of The All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Cleaning Industry (which includes 53 MPs), cleaners are not universally recognized as key or essential workers.
The science shows that the air we breathe is the primary cause of Covid transmission. So proper ventilation and air exchange in built environments, social distancing, wearing of masks and ensuring that Covid cases self-isolate is most important. Sanitising hand touch points is a secondary factor in transmission.
Deloitte anticipates that up to one third of workers will work remotely post pandemic. The impact this will have on the cleaning industry remains to be seen.
The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and other technologies that allow remote working. Webinars, meetings, training, interviews and assessments of various kinds are now routinely carried out on Teams, Zoom and WeBex. There has also been an acceleration of innovations applicable to the cleaning industry.
The Real Living Wage
The percentage gap between the National Living Wage (legal minimum) and the London Living Wage has narrowed over the last 5 years (from 35.4% to 21.7% over the last 5 years. This is all part of the government’s plan to transform the economy from low pay, high taxation, high costs of social benefits to high pay, lower taxation and lower costs of social benefits. Of course the huge cost of propping up the economy during the pandemic makes it highly likely that taxes will only go up in the future to pay for this.
Cleaners’ wages across the UK have increased at a faster rate than other areas of industry over the last four years.
Brexit – no new Europeans entering UK looking for work will make it more difficult to recruit new staff.
The Immigration Bill, the points based immigration system which started in January 2021 and does not allow low skilled workers entry to the UK job market will make it even more difficult to recruit.
There is an increasing use of innovative technology – robots, QR codes/tracking/proof of presence systems, battery power, more sustainable energy sources, on line training schemes, face recognition and swab test health checks.
Increasing use of anti-viral and bacterial sanitisers and anti-viral surface coatings. There is a question about whether this is going too far and removing good bacteria from our environment which we need to maintain health?
Continued pressure to improve sustainability – reduction in chemical use, water to cleaning solution conversion, reduction in plastics use, net zero, EU Ecolabel products, business giving back to the community.
Increased awareness of gender, discrimination, mental health issues, the importance of staying home when ill.
The cleaning industry has undoubtedly been through one of the most difficult times in the last 15 months that it has had to face in living memory but it is ready to bounce back with renewed vigor over the next few months.