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Research reveals UK cleaning industry makes up 5% of the national workforce

New research by the British Cleaning Council (BCC) has revealed that there are approximately 1.63 million workers in the sector, making up around five per cent of the UK workforce.

This total, calculated for the first time by including cleaning workers employed by businesses and organisations in non-core cleaning industries such as cabin crew who clean planes at turnaround and shopworkers who clean the store, gives a true picture of the scale and importance of the sector.

The figures put cleaning on a par with the Transport and Storage Sector and makes it one of the top 10 largest UK industries for employment.

The BCC includes the figures in its fifth annual research report, which classifies cleaning into four core types:

  • cleaning activities
  • facilities management
  • landscape service activities
  • waste and resource management

Overall, employment in the industry has increased five per cent between 2015 and 2018 – greater than the whole economy, which recorded a three per cent growth in that period.

Cleaning contributed over £54.5 billion to the economy in 2018 with overall turnover increasing by 28 per cent since 2013, double the 14 per cent turnover of the economy overall in the same period (ONS 2019).

One of the industry’s growth areas is the rising demand for recycling – waste and resources management rose to nearly £14 billion in 2018 and now accounts for over a quarter (26 per cent) of the turnover of the cleaning industry.

Cleaning provides a vital service for the nation, ensuring that our workplaces, hospitals, schools transport and public spaces are clean and pleasant to use. Hotel surveys consistently place cleanliness at the top of customer choice factors.

BCC Chairman Paul Thrupp commented: “The cleaning industry has long believed the overall employment figure for the cleaning industry was much understated by the official statistics for the core cleaning activities. So this report is a valuable contribution to the national conversation about the financial, environmental and social value of cleaning to the nation.

“The BCC will continue to be the voice for the industry, being the advocate for everything positive about the cleaning sector, but also helping our members with support, advice and leadership to manage challenging issues like low pay, human slavery, health and safety and immigration which can impact cleaning in the UK.”

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