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Cleaning, hygiene and waste industry contributes £55.5bn to UK economy

A new research report released by the British Cleaning Council (BCC) shows the cleaning, hygiene and waste sector remains one of the UK’s top 10 industries.

The latest, revised figures show that the industry contributed £55.5 billion to the UK economy in 2018 – a slight rise on previous figures – with turnover soaring in a sector with tens of thousands of businesses.

The latest employment data available, from 2020, shows that there are 1.47 million workers in the sector, approximately five per cent of the UK workforce and firmly in the top 10 UK industries for employment.

Other more recent figures show the varying effect the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns have had on some parts of the industry, with demand soaring in some areas while others saw demand shrink.

The report also testifies to the change in public attitudes which has put cleaning and hygiene at the top of the agenda and brought widespread recognition for the vital work of the sector’s previously invisible workforce.

Chairman of the BCC, Paul Thrupp, said: “Once again, our annual research report provides some fascinating insights into the cleaning, hygiene and waste sector.

“It testifies to the huge size and importance of the sector, which is one of the 10 biggest in the UK and is a huge contributor to the UK economy.

“There are early indications of the impact of the pandemic on the sector, with different parts of the industry being affected in different ways.

“During the pandemic, many cleaning and hygiene operatives have continued to do vital work, protecting the health and wellbeing of others, while often putting themselves at risk. The public recognises and values this contribution.

“Increased awareness of the importance of cleaning and hygiene means our industry will continue to play a vital role as the UK recovers from the pandemic and into the future. I believe the outlook going forward is very positive.“

The BCC issues a yearly research report on the industry, including national data it has collated. Some of the data available for this year’s report has not been updated by national sources due to the pandemic.

The latest data available, from 2018, demonstrates the strength of the industry, with turnover having increased 30 per cent in the previous five years, a rate much greater than all UK economic growth of 13 per cent.

The industry continued to grow up to 2020, with 66,420 businesses operating, up from nearly 60,000 in 2016, the report says.

Other figures from 2020 show the size of the industry overall. If occupations that involve cleaning and hygiene across other industries such as public services and hospitality are added to the staff directly employed in the sector, the total number of individuals working in the industry is similar to the transport and storage sector at 1.47 million, the report says. It is too early to say for sure but the figure might be slightly down on last year due to the early impact of the pandemic.

The report also highlights the role the newly-established All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene industry will play going forward in areas such as supporting the development of a recognised and universal training accreditation for the industry and raising industry concerns about the availability of labour in the future due to the Immigration Act and Brexit.

For an electronic copy of the report, email compsec@britishcleaningcouncil.org

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