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Industry leader calls on Government to lead targeted hand hygiene campaign

Jim Melvin’s letter calling for action printed in The Times

A letter from former British Cleaning Council (BCC) Chairman Jim Melvin calling for the Government to take action on hand hygiene has been printed in The Times.

In the letter, Jim Melvin, who is Master of BCC member The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC), noted the ‘absence of any true Government plan to cope with a resurgence of Covid-19 or prepare for future pandemics’ and called for additional steps to be taken immediately. Image

He wrote: “One would be for the Government to lead a ‘targeted hygiene’ campaign to support the owners and operators of public spaces to implement measures that help the public to practise simple and effective hand hygiene."

By helping to suppress the spread of disease, this would reduce pressure on health services, maintain productivity and increase the public’s still fragile confidence in using public transport and public places.

There were examples of major events where these measures had been successfully implemented, he wrote in the letter, which was published on 15 January, adding that there was a ‘moral imperative’ to quickly take ‘proven actions’.

The BCC and 21 industry associations have been calling for the Government to adopt the recommendations in the Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK report since last year.

Delia Cannings, Chair of the BCC, said: “I am delighted to see that Jim is helping keep the important issue of hygiene in the spotlight." Image

Improved hand hygiene is important nationally but only one of a series of essential measures that we believe the Government should take."

We want the Government to put cleaning and hygiene at the heart of the national agenda and adopt in full the recommendations in the Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK report."

Taking these steps will ensure that the lessons of the Covid 19 pandemic are learnt and the public’s health is protected in future.

Sector staff have been asked to contact their MP in support of the campaign. To find out how to get involved, visit https://britishcleaningcouncil.org/2023/02/06/download-letter-here.

The Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK report was compiled by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry. It made 11 key recommendations, summarised below:

· The establishment of a joint Government-industry preparedness team to plan for public health emergencies.

· Minimum levels of cleaning materials and equipment to be agreed and made available in readiness.

· Thought to be given to how to increase production during a public health emergency.

· Key frontline worker status must be bestowed upon cleaning operatives and staff working in supply and manufacturing if a pandemic happens.

· Urgent consideration to be given to making cleaning staff eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa scheme.

· Minimum standards for hygiene infrastructure and cleaning in diverse venues to be agreed.

· A standard qualification for cleaning to be developed within the Apprenticeship Levy.

· Training budgets for cleaning operatives should be adequate.

· Government communications around hygiene in times of pandemic should be clear, consistent, sustained, timely, relevant and specific.

· The Government should use behavioural science-based communication campaigns to promote hygienic behaviour to the public.

· The Government should support the cleaning and hygiene industry in realigning perceptions of the industry.


BCC ‘thrilled’ to announce approval for the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship

Millions of pounds a year could potentially be invested in training sector staff

Proposals for an Apprenticeship Standard for the cleaning and hygiene industry have been approved, potentially paving the way for employers to invest millions of pounds annually in training sector staff.

The British Cleaning Council (BCC), which made achieving the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship one of its key priorities, is aiming to support the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy funded programme early in 2024.

It will be hosting a series of expert-led AAG (Apprenticeship Advice and Guidance) Zoom information sessions starting in October, where employers can find out what the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship means for them and how to implement it in their workplace.

Employers are being encouraged to watch out for details of the free sessions, which will be announced via sector media, the BCC website (https://britishcleaningcouncil.org) and the BCC’s social media channels.

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

Because there hasn’t been a relevant Apprenticeship for many cleaning and hygiene businesses to invest in, millions of pounds of Levy funding paid by the sector annually has gone to the Government instead.

The decision by approving body The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) to give the greenlight to the proposals means those businesses will now be able to use their Apprenticeship Levy payments to fund staff to complete training for a Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship.

BCC Chairman Delia Cannings said: “My BCC colleagues and I are thrilled and delighted by this news. 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."

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

I can’t overstate how important this 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 qualifications will 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."

Handling chemicals, understanding the differences between cleaning and disinfecting, science-based cleaning techniques, the contribution the sector can make to the green agenda and the increasingly important role of technology are all crucial and need to be covered."

It is long past time that our industry, as one of the biggest in the UK, had an Apprenticeship Standard for cleaning and hygiene staff."

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. Thank you also to my predecessor as BCC Chair Jim Melvin and the many employers and colleagues who also gave their support.

Previous attempts by the industry to win approval for an Apprenticeship for the entire cleaning and hygiene sector did not succeed.

The BCC launched the latest attempt in 2021 by sponsoring a Trailblazer group, comprising major companies from the sector along with supporting stakeholders, to spearhead the development of the Apprenticeship. A wide range of businesses in the sector gave it their backing.

A Healthcare Cleaning Operative (HCO) Apprenticeship was approved in early 2020 however it is largely focused on the cleaning activity carried out across the NHS. Now we have access to pathways and routes to enable the wider cleaning communities to become qualified and recognised for the key role they play regarding the health wellbeing and resilience of the UK.


BCC Chair appeals for more staff to back ‘common sense’ proposals to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority

The British Cleaning Council (BCC) has thanked the more than 450 industry members who have so far backed its campaign to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.

It comes as a new assessment rating the likelihood of a pandemic in the future shows how important it is that the Government takes the measures being demanded in the campaign.

The recently published National Risk Register, ranked the chances of a future 'catastrophic' pandemic as up to 25 per cent.

The campaign is calling for the Government to accept in full the 11 recommendations in the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, entitled Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK.

The measures would make the UK much more resilient to current common infections such as flu and also better prepared for future public health emergencies - like the future pandemic flagged up by register.

BCC Chair Delia Cannings said: “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has backed the campaign so far. But if you haven’t, please do take part. It is literally a matter of life and death and it should only take a few minutes to get involved.

We need your help to make the voice of the cleaning and hygiene sector heard and guard against more tragedies in the future."

As the general public seek reassurances regarding cleaning standards, we must stand together to reinforce the value of the role our cleaning and hygiene operatives play. After all, let’s not forget they are the guardians of the standards."

Brave cleaning staff were on the frontline in the battle against the Covid pandemic and the risk of a pandemic returning shows how the role of our sector's professional and skilled personnel in keeping people healthy, well and safe continues to be vital."

Persuading the Government to take the steps recommended by MPs in last year's report will also help save lives and protect public health by guarding against common infections like flu."

Surely it is only common sense to learn the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic and keep cleaning and hygiene at the top of the agenda going forward.

The British Cleaning Council and 21 associations from across the cleaning, hygiene and waste industry announced a campaign in February asking sector staff to help lobby MPs to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.

Industry colleagues are being asked to download a pre-written letter from the BCC website calling on the Government to accept the APPG’s recommendations, and email it to their local MP along with the report.

The BCC has circulated a QR code which people can scan or they can visit https://britishcleaningcouncil.org/2023/02/06/download-letter-here to find the letter, APPG report and details of their local MP.

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The drive takes place under the umbrella of the BCC’s We Clean, We Care campaign, which reflects the pride that skilled and professional cleaning staff have in the vital, frontline role.

The Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK made 11 key recommendations, summarised below:

  • The establishment of a joint Government-industry preparedness team to plan for public health emergencies.
  • Minimum levels of cleaning materials and equipment to be agreed and made available in readiness.
  • Thought to be given to how to increase production during a public health emergency.
  • Key frontline worker status must be bestowed upon cleaning operatives and staff working in supply and manufacturing if a pandemic happens.
  • Urgent consideration to be given to making cleaning staff eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa scheme.
  • Minimum standards for hygiene infrastructure and cleaning in diverse venues to be agreed.
  • A standard qualification for cleaning to be developed within the Apprenticeship Levy.
  • Training budgets for cleaning operatives should be adequate.
  • Government communications around hygiene in times of pandemic should be clear, consistent, sustained, timely, relevant and specific.
  • The Government should use behavioural science-based communication campaigns to promote hygienic behaviour to the public.
  • The Government should support the cleaning and hygiene industry in realigning perceptions of the industry.

BCC elects new Chair and Deputy Chair

Delia Cannings takes over from Jim Melvin

The British Cleaning Council (BCC), which is the voice of the UK’s cleaning, hygiene and waste sector, officially elected a new Chair and Deputy Chair at its recent Annual General Meeting.

Delia Cannings, who has served as Deputy Chair of the BCC for the past two years, has taken over the Chair from Jim Melvin.

Delia is a well-known and respected figure in the industry, having worked in the sector for 45 years and in fields including both the public and private sectors and the cleaning, health, hospitality, commercial, education and training sectors.

Delia is the owner and Executive Director of Environmental Excellence Training & Development Ltd, which she founded. She is also National Lead for Education and Training for BCC member the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp) and Deputy Chair for the UK Housekeepers Association (UKHA), Midlands Committee.

Delia plans to continue with existing BCC priorities, as well as championing education and training in the sector and calling for Government to allow more Apprenticeship Levy funding paid by cleaning and hygiene businesses to instead be invested in industry initiatives.

She said: “I am truly humbled to be elected as the second ever Chair lady of the BCC. My passion for this industry began many years back."

I have been honoured to observe some great leaders in the field building bridges and striving for change. Combined with the advancement of cleaning technology, these things have inspired me and enabled the sharing of best practices across the industry by way of education and training."

We have work to do, that is for sure. Jim Melvin has left big shoes to fill, and I will give my heart and soul to solidifying the footprint already created in support of the work led by a great man and inspirational leader Jim Melvin.

The meeting also elected a new Deputy Chair, David Garcia, who is also a leading industry figure.

David has been closely associated with BCC council for a number of years and is Treasurer and Vice-President of BCC member the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA).

He has been in the industry for almost 50 years and was the founder and former Chairman of Polaris Plastics, which is one of the UK’s leading providers of refuse sacks and bin liners to the away from home market.

He said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed as Deputy Chair of the BCC. I’m very much looking forward to working with Delia and other colleagues for the betterment of the Industry in general."

There is a lot to be done and I am sure under Delia’s leadership there will be some meaningful and lasting developments. I would like to pay tribute to Jim Melvin and other past Chairs at this time.

During Jim Melvin’s time in office, he 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 Government. He will continue to lead on APPG work during Delia’s term in office.

Jim, who was elected Chairman in 2021, repeatedly called for cleaning operatives to be recognised and supported by Government, as part of which the BCC launched the ‘We Clean, We Care’ campaign last year.

Jim also prioritised the push for an Apprenticeship-Levy funded Apprenticeship for cleaning operatives, which has made huge progress and could soon be achieved.

Jim continued to make sure the voice of the industry was heard through the media during his time in office, making a significant number of high-profile media appearances and interviews.

Jim Melvin said: “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 indeed the industry in some way."

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 and passion aligning with her extensive experience."

I will be happy to help where appropriate but in the meantime, I would like to thank all the friends and industry colleagues who have supported me over the past two years.


Business leaders call for colleagues to support APPG campaign

BCC thanks Industry members who are helping lobby MPs

Businesspeople from the cleaning and hygiene sector have urged industry colleagues to get behind the British Cleaning Council-led lobbying campaign to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.

Dave Wheadon, CEO of BCC member the National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA), Billy Russell, owner of Billy Russell Cleaning, Angela Gill, Managing Director of Bio-Productions, are among those who have met and lobbied MPs recently in support of the campaign. David Garcia, Vice President and Treasurer of BCC member the Cleaning and Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) had earlier met the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire, while Jim Melvin, Chairman of the BCC, has also met the Rt Hon Grant Shapps, the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield.

The cleaning, hygiene and waste industry came together earlier this year to call for sector staff to help lobby MPs to have the recommendations in the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, entitled Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK, accepted in full.

Since then, individuals, businesses and trade associations across the country have been downloading and adapting a pre-written letter about the campaign from the BCC website and emailing it to their local MP. Image

BCC Chairman Jim Melvin said: “I want to say a very big thank you to all those who have contacted their MP in support of the APPG report and our campaign."

This is a hugely important issue. We are one of the biggest industries in the UK, worth £59bn and with a vital, frontline role in keeping people safe, well and healthy, so it is time the Government sat up and paid us the attention we are due. “We need cleaning and hygiene to be a top priority in this country – it will help save lives in the long run. So please, if you haven’t already taken part, give us your support, it is easy to do.

Mr Wheadon asked fellow NCCA directors – including Billy Russell - to give their backing to the campaign, so Mr Russell wrote to his local MP, the Rt Hon Jesse Norman, Minister of State in the Department for Transport. Mr Norman, who is MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, responded to Mr Russell’s letter and agreed to visit his company office to discuss it with both of them.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Wheadon said it had been a wide-ranging discussion on issues including the need for recognition for cleaning staff, the need for an industry-wide Apprenticeship and how to attract young people to the industry. He said: “The meeting went really well. It was a good, detailed discussion and Jesse was really interested, he listened and asked how he could help."

Without our industry, the country would not have dealt with Covid as effectively as we have but what our industry did has been forgotten."

We have to make sure they don’t forget what our industry did during the pandemic, we need to maintain our voice and get behind this campaign.

Mr Russell said: “I don’t think a lot of people understand what the industry entails, but Jesse really took it all on board and we gave him a lot of information."

The only way we will make this succeed is by working together as an industry. The more people take part, the more likely this campaign will work.

Angela Gill, who is also a Freeman with BCC member the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaning, met with Mims Davies, MP for Mid Sussex and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions and had a ‘comprehensive’ and ‘constructive’ discussion.Image

She said: “We're at the end of a two or three-year period where hygiene became the top priority for the entire world. Now is the time to capitalise on that momentum and awareness and not let the lessons of the pandemic be forgotten."

This campaign is about ensuring cleaning and cleanliness remain top of the agenda for years to come so we can protect the vulnerable, and so we aren't caught unawares next time a new virus comes along."

More personally, it's about making sure cleaning workers are recognised for what they do. They need to feel more valued, to be celebrated for the contributions they make to keeping people safe."

The old adage that there's strength in numbers is true for campaigns like these. The cleaning industry plays a vital role to the lives of everyday people as well as the UK economy."

It may not be the most attention-grabbing or headline-hitting industry, but what we do matters and hygiene saves lives. The more of us who speak up and work together, the more likely we are to succeed.

The APPG report has been backed by the British Cleaning Council and 21 associations from all across the industry.

Its recommendations, if implemented, would put cleaning and hygiene at the heart of the national agenda, making the nation much more resilient to current common infections and also much better prepared for future public health emergencies, like the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BCC has circulated a QR code which people can scan or they can visit https://britishcleaningcouncil.org/2023/02/06/download-letter-here to find the letter, APPG report, a petition and details of their local MP.

The drive takes place under the umbrella of the BCC’s We Clean, We Care campaign.

The Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK report made 11 key recommendations, summarised below:

  • The establishment of a joint Government-industry preparedness team to plan for public health emergencies.
  • Minimum levels of cleaning materials and equipment to be agreed and made available in readiness.
  • Thought to be given to how to increase production during a public health emergency.
  • Key frontline worker status must be bestowed upon cleaning operatives and staff working in supply and manufacturing if a pandemic happens.
  • Urgent consideration to be given to making cleaning staff eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa scheme.
  • Minimum standards for hygiene infrastructure and cleaning in diverse venues to be agreed.
  • A standard qualification for cleaning to be developed within the Apprenticeship Levy.
  • Training budgets for cleaning operatives should be adequate.
  • Government communications around hygiene in times of pandemic should be clear, consistent, sustained, timely, relevant and specific.
  • The Government should use behavioural science-based communication campaigns to promote hygienic behaviour to the public.
  • The Government should support the cleaning and hygiene industry in realigning perceptions of the industry.

New industry report calls for more support and recognition from Government for cleaning staff

Adopting report recommendations will ‘save lives in the future’

A new report released today has called for better acknowledgement and support for cleaning and hygiene sector workers from the Government.

The report, which is backed by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), the British Cleaning Council (BCC) and 22 organisations from across the industry, identified two priority recommendations in order to ensure that lessons are learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, and measures are quickly put in place to effectively fight communicable infections in future. 

The report reflects the opinions of an industry roundtable meeting which included a wide range of representatives from the £59bn cleaning, hygiene and waste sector - including trade associations and businesses - along with public health and behavioural insight experts.

The report’s first recommendation was that a dedicated Government department or agency – such as the UK Health Security Agency - is needed to work in partnership with industry to implement necessary preparedness and cultural changes.

The report’s second recommendation was that cleaning and hygiene staff must be acknowledged and appropriately supported by Government, trained, accredited and both culturally and socially accepted. Cleaning and hygiene staff are the key conduit through which hygiene practices are delivered into facilities, it noted.

The roundtable meeting also backed last year’s report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, entitled Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK, which followed an inquiry into the role of cleaning and hygiene, and the associated challenges, during the pandemic.

The APPG report made 11 recommendations aimed at putting cleaning and hygiene at the top of the national agenda, thereby making the UK much more resilient to current common infections such as flu and also better prepared for future public health emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Business leaders from the cleaning, hygiene and waste sector – which is one of the UK’s ten biggest industries - have been calling for the Government to adopt the APPG Covid learnings report since it was published last December. The BCC, which represents the entire sector, and trade associations from across the industry recently came together to launch a campaign for the APPG report to be implemented in full. Image

They are calling on industry colleagues to write to their MP in support of the report. So far, over 300 letters have been sent with more to follow. The BCC is also lobbying MPs and Government directly.

The drive takes place under the umbrella of the BCC’s ‘We Clean, We Care’ campaign, which reflects the pride cleaning and hygiene staff have in the vital, frontline role they perform, keeping others safe, well, healthy and increasing public confidence in the UK’s infrastructure and workplaces.

Chairman of the BCC, Jim Melvin, said: “This report recommends two key, priority measures that will help ensure the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic are learnt, protecting public health and saving lives in the future.

“Recognising the key, frontline and vital role of the cleaning and hygiene sector staff and a good working relationship between the Government and our industry will help ensure the public is healthier, happier and safer going forward, with increased social acceptance of our teams’ professionalism and better cultural awareness of the industry. 

“The cleaning, hygiene and waste industry along with experts in public health have come together to speak with one voice on this issue. We need and require to be heard. It is essential that the recommendations in this report and the earlier report from the sector’s APPG are accepted in full.

“But if the Government continues to see cleaning and hygiene as a cultural after-thought, as it did before the Covid-19 pandemic, they are arguably leaving the health of the public at risk.”

CEO of the RSPH, William Roberts, said: “Cleaning and hygiene operatives are an essential part of the wider public health workforce, which is why there needs to be improved recognition of their role and greater support from Government.

“The recommendations in this report set out a way to ensure cleaning and hygiene operatives are better acknowledged as a profession, and are able to use their collective expertise to support Government and to make us all safer.

“Working in partnership is key to ensure the most up-to-date public health practices benefit society as a whole and we welcome the approach set out by the APPG.  RSPH continues to support the cleaning and hygiene sector through its qualifications and training.” 

Chairman of the Cleaning & Support Services Association (CSSA), Paul Ashton, said: “The report in itself is progress but what happens next is most important.

“Integration of technology in the modern cleaning solution is an intrinsic part of how we increase social acceptance of cleaning and hygiene to create recognition of our frontline staff.  Innovation is readily available, more so than ever before, but the Government’s refusal to recognise our industry is limiting acceptance and consequently risking lives.

“To enable positive change, we owe it to our frontline staff and businesses within our industry to access levy-funded training that we have all been paying into for years. Training and development is identified as a key action within the report, when public health is the key outcome – not enabling our industry is playing Russian roulette with society.

“We have the potential to be the global leader in cleaning and hygiene, so it’s about time the Government acknowledged the phenomenal work of our industry and simply provided the platform to progress.

“We’ll keep doing the hard work as we always have done but with genuine recognition, we can maximise the opportunities that technology create, improve productivity and ultimately create a cleaner, safer United Kingdom.”

Recommendation one was the result of a large part of the roundtable discussion centering on the need for a strengthened partnership between the sector and Government.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) was identified by the group as the most appropriate to ensure there are strong links between cleaning, public health and businesses, with the BCC leading the relationship and other sectors providing insight.

Referring to the second recommendation, there was clear consensus across the group that cleaning and hygiene operatives are the key conduit through which hygiene practices are delivered into facilities.

They must be trained, accredited and appropriately supported as a fundamental requirement for the implementation of the APPG recommendations.

They are an essential part of the public health workforce and must be recognised as such. They should be acknowledged as key to delivering public health in such situations as a pandemic, and better recognition for these roles must be provided to improve recruitment and retention.

The recommendations of the December APPG report are summarised below: 

  • The establishment of a joint Government-industry preparedness team to plan for public health emergencies.
  • Minimum levels of cleaning materials and equipment to be agreed and made available in readiness.
  • Thought to be given to how to increase production during a public health emergency.
  • Key frontline worker status must be bestowed upon cleaning operatives and staff working in supply and manufacturing if a pandemic happens.
  • Urgent consideration to be given to making cleaning staff eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa scheme.
  • Minimum standards for hygiene infrastructure and cleaning in diverse venues to be agreed.
  • A standard qualification for cleaning to be developed within the Apprenticeship Levy.
  • Training budgets for cleaning operatives should be adequate.
  • Government communications around hygiene in times of pandemic should be clear, consistent, sustained, timely, relevant and specific.
  • The Government should use behavioural science-based communication campaigns to promote hygienic behaviour to the public.
  • The Government should support the cleaning and hygiene industry in realigning perceptions of the industry.

Members of the cleaning and hygiene industry can find out how to support the campaign to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority here: Read more ...


Furious business leader slams speech by Suella Braverman

One of UK’s biggest industries has been ‘ignored’ by Government

The leader of the organisation representing one of the UK’s biggest industrial sectors has slammed Monday’s speech by Home Secretary Suella Braverman for ‘once again ignoring’ a £59 billion pound industry, ignoring her own Government’s facts that there are over 1m vacancies that currently cannot be filled nationwide and being ‘completely divorced from reality’.

The cleaning, hygiene and waste industry, which employs 1.47m people and is worth £59bn, 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 industry body representing the entire sector, the British Cleaning Council (BCC), has been calling for two years for the Government to recognise the vital work of sector staff and help with the recruitment crisis, but without success, despite the brave and selfless work of cleaning and hygiene staff throughout the pandemic, which Mrs Braverman seems to have conveniently forgotten.

In her speech, 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 – but singularly failed to acknowledge the challenges facing the cleaning and hygiene sector.

BCC Chairman 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.”

The cleaning and hygiene industry has traditionally depended on employees of all nationalities, with Labour Force Survey figures from 2019 showing that 37 per cent of the nationwide workforce were from overseas. This figure has recently dropped to 20 per cent of the workforce.

Following the new rules brought in by the Immigration Act in 2021 and Brexit, many foreign nationals working in the industry left the country and have not been allowed to return.

UK nationals have traditionally not joined the industry, and so vacant positions are proving difficult to fill.

The BCC has been calling for help, such as upskilling staff and being accredited with an Apprenticeship Levy-funded Apprenticeship Standard, in order to allow a relaxation in immigration rules for overseas staff coming to work in the cleaning and hygiene sector.

But while visa rules have been relaxed or adjusted in some sectors in recent years to tackle worker shortages, this Government simply has not changed or discussed changing them for the cleaning and hygiene sector.

The ONS Labour market overview for May 2023 recorded that In February to April 2023, the estimated number of total national vacancies was 1,083,000.

For more information about the BCC, visit britishcleaningcouncil.org


BCC reiterates call for industry members to join lobbying campaign

More than 150 letters have been sent so far with first responses from MPs

The British Cleaning Council (BCC) has thanked the more than 150 industry members who have backed its lobbying campaign and called on more colleagues to lend their support. Early results are that three MPs have been engaged, along with the Conservative policy unit, which only serves to demonstrate the effect that YOU are having.

The British Cleaning Council and 22 associations from across the cleaning, hygiene and waste industry announced a campaign in February asking sector staff to help lobby MPs and sign a petition to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.

The aim is for the Government to accept in full the 11 recommendations in the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, entitled Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK. The report aims to ensure that the UK learns the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic by putting cleaning and hygiene at the heart of the national agenda in the future.

Industry colleagues are being asked to download a pre-written letter from the BCC website and email it to their local MP along with the report, and also to sign a petition, both calling on the Government to accept the APPG’s recommendations.

BCC Chairman Jim Melvin urged delegates at the recent London Cleaning Show to get behind the campaign during his conference address on the morning of the first day, as did BCC Deputy Chair Delia Cannings when she spoke at the event on day two. Throughout the event, colleagues on the BCC stand at the Cleaning Show were handing out information leaflets. The campaign has been symbolised by an image of the famous World War 1 recruiting poster featuring Lord Kitchener, reworked say ‘The Cleaning Industry Needs You’, on the BCC stand.Image

As part of the campaign, Jim Melvin recently met his local MP, The Rt Hon Grant Shapps, to brief him about the issue. At least two other MPs have responded to industry colleagues. APPG Chair Nigel Mills, Jim Melvin and BCC Company Secretary Simon Hollingbery also met with Ben Everitt MP, Chair of the APPG on Business Resilience, as part of a drive to contact other APPGs about the report.

Also on the agenda is an approach to the Migration Advisory Committee, which advises on which jobs should go onto the Shortage Occupation List.

BCC Chair Jim Melvin said: “The campaign has got off to a good start. We feel with some justification that we are beginning to see some traction with the political establishment but we still have much further to go.

“I want to sincerely thank the over 150 colleagues who have contacted their local MP in support of the campaign so far, it is very much appreciated.

“But our industry employs 1.4 million people, so there are many more colleagues who can get behind the campaign.

“If you haven’t taken part so far, I’d like to ask: ‘We clean, but how much do we care about our industry and can you please assist?

“We need your help if the voice of our sector is to be heard by MPs and Government. It is easy to get involved and will only take a few minutes of your time, so please show you care and take part.”

The BCC has circulated a QR code which people can scan or they can visit https://britishcleaningcouncil.org/2023/02/06/download-letter-here to find the letter, APPG report, petition and details of their local MP.

The drive takes place under the umbrella of the BCC’s We Clean, We Care campaign, which reflects the pride cleaning staff have in the vital, frontline role they perform, keeping others safe, well and healthy.

The Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK report aims to recognise the vital frontline role of the cleaning and hygiene sector and staff, make the UK much more resilient to current common infections such as flu and also better prepared for future public health emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic.

It made 11 key recommendations, summarised below:

  • The establishment of a joint Government-industry preparedness team to plan for public health emergencies.
  • Minimum levels of cleaning materials and equipment to be agreed and made available in readiness.
  • Thought to be given to how to increase production during a public health emergency.
  • Key frontline worker status must be bestowed upon cleaning operatives and staff working in supply and manufacturing if a pandemic happens.
  • Urgent consideration to be given to making cleaning staff eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa scheme.
  • Minimum standards for hygiene infrastructure and cleaning in diverse venues to be agreed.
  • A standard qualification for cleaning to be developed within the Apprenticeship Levy.
  • Training budgets for cleaning operatives should be adequate.
  • Government communications around hygiene in times of pandemic should be clear, consistent, sustained, timely, relevant and specific.
  • The Government should use behavioural science-based communication campaigns to promote hygienic behaviour to the public.
  • The Government should support the cleaning and hygiene industry in realigning perceptions of the industry.

Visit the BCC website to Learn more ...


Approving body considers final proposals for Apprenticeship Standard

Final proposals for an Apprenticeship Levy funded industry-wide Apprenticeship for the cleaning and hygiene sector have been submitted to the approving body.

It is hoped that the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (iATE) will give the final agreement and confirmation for the Apprenticeship Standard and End Point Assessment within a couple of months although there is no fixed timeline at the moment.

IATE will first hold further discussions about key points with the industry trailblazer group that drew up the proposals before a final consultation is held.

The Apprenticeship promises to bring huge benefits to the cleaning and hygiene industry and many sector businesses and organisations have supported and backed the proposals. Read more ...


Industry members urged to join letter writing campaign and sign petition to help make cleaning and hygiene a national priority

The cleaning, hygiene and waste industry has come together to issue a call for sector staff to ‘speak up’ for their industry and help lobby MPs and sign a petition to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.Image

The British Cleaning Council and 22 associations from across the industry are frustrated by the lack of interest from MPs (except for Chairman Nigel Mills MP) and political parties in the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry, entitled Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK.

The report’s recommendations, if implemented, would put cleaning and hygiene at the heart of the national agenda, making the nation much more resilient to current common infections and also much better prepared for future public health emergencies, like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of the industry are being asked to download and adapt a pre-written letter highlighting the issue to email to their local MP, and also to sign a petition, both calling on the Government to implement the report recommendations in full. People can scan a QR code to find the letter and petition and find details of their local MP on the BCC website. 


Industry experts and senior stakeholders meet to discuss taking APPG report forward

Key representatives from across the cleaning and hygiene and public health sectors came together for a high-level meeting to discuss the recent report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry.

Twenty industry experts joined the roundtable meeting in London to discuss the findings of the inquiry, entitled Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK, and how to respond to, and take forward, the recommendations. Learn more ...


BCC pays tribute to one of its original founders

The British Cleaning Council has paid tribute to one of its co-founders who died earlier this year, aged 82.

Terence King and two industry colleagues set up the British Cleaning Council (BCC) in 1982 after hearing the Master of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC) tell an audience during a speech that he felt all sectors of the UK cleaning industry should amalgamate to advance their common interests. Learn more ...


New report recommends wide-ranging measures to make sure the nation is ready for any future public health emergency

A new report by MPs into the role of cleaning and hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic has called for the introduction of minimum standards for hand and other hygiene infrastructure and cleaning of venues to help make sure the nation is better prepared for any future public health emergency.
 
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry published the highly significant report with 11 recommendations for Government, regulators and the industry itself, following a wide-ranging and detailed inquiry entitled ‘Embedding Effective Hygiene for a Resilient UK’. Learn more ...


BCC calls for cleaning sector organisations and companies to consider paying a real Living Wage

To mark Living Wage Week, the British Cleaning Council (BCC) has renewed its call for cleaning and hygiene sector businesses and organisations to consider also becoming real Living Wage Employers.
 
Supporting the real Living Wage means committing to paying employees a wage which is independently calculated to meet everyday needs - like the weekly shop, or a surprise trip to the dentist.
 
Living Wage Week runs from Monday, 14 November, to 18 November, and features a series of daily events organised by the Living Wage Foundation and Living Wage employers. Learn more ...


BCC’s 2022 research report is available free on request

Some interesting insights on the cleaning, hygiene and waste sector are revealed by the British Cleaning Council’s (BCC) 2022 research report, which was published on Wednesday, 6 April.

The number of sector businesses grew to 69,005 in 2021 and the number of employees working in the sector remained static at 1.47 million, according to the latest statistics available, it said.

Learn more on the BCC website or to directly receive a free digital copy of the research report, email compsec@britishcleaningcouncil.org.


BCC Joins Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse

The British Cleaning Council is now a member of the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse and is encouraging other cleaning and hygiene employers to sign up. Read our full coverage of the story ...


More News From The Council

 


About The British Cleaning Council


Established in 1982, the British Cleaning Council (BCC) is the authoritative, collective voice of UK’s cleaning, hygiene and waste management industries.

The council’s membership is made up of 21 trade and membership associations which all represent different industry sub-sectors. From contract cleaning to waste management, pest control to housekeeping, training providers to machine manufacturers, chemical suppliers to wheelie-bin washers – the BCC coordinates, campaigns and supports the affairs of the UK’s entire commercial cleaning ecosystem.

Key priorities for the BCC and its membership include raising professional standards, employee health and wellbeing, career development and training, improved quality control and better procurement practices. It is also committed to promoting higher levels of cleaning and hygiene across all environments – commercial, domestic and public.

Learn More About The Council


ImageAPPG for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene Industry


The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry was inaugurated in February 2021, with the support of a sizeable number of MPs from all the major political parties and members of The House of Lords.

The group exists to promote the critical importance of the cleaning and hygiene industry to the people of the United Kingdom.

The APPG is operated by MPs and members of the House of Lords with the British Cleaning Council acting in the role of secretariat and organising a significant number of steering groups in seeking to carry out the industry’s clear, focused and much needed strategic aims.

For additional information, please email the APPG’s secretariat via Simon Hollingbery at compsec@britishcleaningcouncil.org.


Learn More About The APPG


BCC personnel

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Delia Cannings

Chair at the BCC.

Director at Environmental Excellence Training & Development Ltd.

See Profile.

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David Garcia

Deputy Chair at the BCC.

Treasurer and Vice-President of the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) and founder and former Chair of Polaris Plastics.

See Profile.


Simon Hollinbery, a former BCC Chair, is the council’s Company Secretary.


Visit The British Cleaning Council


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