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Fall in numbers of directly employed maintenance staff in the public sector

There has been a decline in the number of directly employed maintenance staff working within the public sector according to a recent analysis by BCIS, the Building Cost Information Service of RICS. Recent BCIS research has obtained figures, under information requests to the National Health Service and Local Government, that shed light on the numbers of maintenance workers still directly employed in the health and local authority sectors.

The results suggest that there are now very few NHS maintenance staff paid under the nationally agreed Agenda for Change wage awards for engineers, craftsmen or labourers. The total number of staff employed, using the above job roles, and as submitted by individual NHS organisations, is just 1,862.

A similar reduction in directly-employed Local Authority maintenance staff levels was found in surveys carried out by Local Government. The surveys estimated that between 2005 and 2017 the number of craftworkers had fallen from 12,000 to 4,000.

There are no official statistics to validate this data; the NHS advised that there may be other directly-employed staff members carrying out maintenance duties, but not under the defined job descriptions.

Up until the early 1980s, every public, and indeed many private sector departments, had their very own in-house maintenance team but since public sector organisations have been required to put maintenance work out to tender, the work has either been let to private sector organisations or the direct labour organisations (DLO) have themselves been privatised.

This has tended to change the wage awards under which the maintenance staff are employed. The mix of wage awards forms part of the models for RICS maintenance indices and forecasts.

BCIS will be reviewing the inputs to their maintenance indices and forecasts in the light of this research.

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