The British Cleaning Council has urgently called on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry to drive progress on key issues affecting the sector.
Senior figures at the BCC are concerned that there has been a lapse in actions to achieve several key aims, which have now become even more vital due to the serious challenges the sector is facing. The BCC is to hold an urgent meeting with its members in December to discuss a way forward.
The BCC wants the APPG to back and fully support its call for government help in the face of the severe staff shortages which have hit the sector and threaten the nation’s recovery from Coronavirus. Many companies all across the sector are struggling to recruit staff. A recent BCC survey of a number of sector firms, which employ around 30,000 staff in total, found that there were nearly 2000 vacancies and some firms were reporting that vacancies had increased by 267% in the previous six months.
In February, when the APPG was inaugurated, its immediate priorities were agreed as:
- During 2021, to conduct a short inquiry to highlight the essential nature of the work undertaken by cleaning and hygiene operatives.
- To work with the cleaning industry Trailblazer group, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and departmental ministers and their officials to encourage the development of occupational standards and the introduction of Level 2 apprenticeships in cleaning science.
- To promote the importance of the cleaning and hygiene sector to restore confidence to return to public places, including workplaces.
- In the aftermath of the pandemic, the APPG to encourage the adoption and promotion of preventative health and hygiene.
- To promote the adoption of the real Living Wage.
Whilst it must be acknowledged that there has been progress in the drive towards setting up an accredited industry-wide training programme and apprenticeship for the sector, the actions have been completed by an industry Trailblazer group sponsored by the BCC.
BCC chairman, Jim Melvin, said: “We need the APPG to help us make progress in a number of areas which are now becoming extremely urgent because of the huge scale of the issues the industry faces. We are concerned that the actions required are taking longer than anticipated at a time when we believe there is a disconnect with government as to the scale of the priorities. As the industry will confirm, we desperately need help to address the major staff shortages affecting sector firms. People need to understand that this is an issue that threatens the public’s health and well-being. We cannot assist in protecting people from coronavirus if we don’t have the staff to keep buildings and facilities clean."
Jim Melvin continued: “We are heading into another winter with COVID cases rising and yet cleaning and hygiene operatives still do not have key worker status despite their vital role in the fight against the virus. Recognition is long overdue and, in that regard, it is understandably very frustrating. The APPG was formed to assist with all these important issues and we need that assistance now! We are now calling an urgent meeting with BCC members to discuss our approach.”