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British Cleaning Council ‘Infuriated’ by Suella Braverman Speech

British Cleaning Council ‘Infuriated’ by Suella Braverman Speech
18 May 2023

Suella Braverman’s speech at the National Conservatism conference has failed to recognise staff shortages in the cleaning industry, says the British Cleaning Council.

British Cleaning Council (BCC) Chair Jim Melvin believes that the sector and its challenges have been ignored, as the Home Secretary argued that there should be training for British fruit pickers, lorry drivers and butchers in a bid to bring down the reliance on migrant workers.

The cleaning, hygiene and waste industry, which employs 1.47 million people and is worth £59 billion, has been struggling with severe staff shortages since 2020, when a tightening of immigration rules incorrectly labelled cleaning staff as unskilled and made it more difficult for overseas workers to join the industry. The ONS Labour market overview for May 2023 recorded that from February to April 2023, the estimated number of total national cleaning vacancies was 1,083,000.


‘Appalled and Infuriated’


The BCC has been calling for two years for the government to recognise the vital work of sector staff and help with the recruitment crisis. Jim Melvin said: “I am appalled and infuriated that once again the severe staff shortages in the cleaning and hygiene sector have been completely ignored by Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

“By focusing solely on HGV drivers, butchers and fruit pickers in her recent speech, she is completely divorced from the reality that our industry faces with its huge recruitment problems, or perhaps she is simply choosing to ignore the facts.

“Despite being one of the biggest industries in the UK, and with a vital, frontline role in keeping people healthy, safe and well, our calls for help have been totally overlooked by the government.

“The simple fact is that this industry has been seeking to gain the Apprenticeship Levy accreditation for a number of years and, if it had been or was to be awarded, we would have already answered Mrs Braverman’s argument! Instead, we have effectively paid a stealth tax to the government for little in return.

“The cleaning and hygiene industry demands the same kind of assistance that other sectors have received but this Government simply refuses to listen. Cleaning staff were correctly lauded as heroes during the Covid pandemic, but their brave actions have simply been ignored once again by the Government as it doesn’t suit the narrative.

“There already aren’t anywhere near enough UK nationals coming forward to fill the mass vacancies in our sector. I remain unsurprised by the lack of detail in the statement, but would welcome the opportunity to examine any facts behind Mrs Braverman’s plans, especially when the country does not have sufficient resource to fill the current level of over 1 million national vacancies? I firmly believe this is unlikely to change unless the government is prepared to discuss and fully assist.”

Picture: a photograph of Suella Braverman. Image Credit: via an Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence:

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 18 May 2023


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