The British Cleaning Council (BCC) has called on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Cleaning and Hygiene Industry to “drive progress on key issues affecting the sector”.
Senior BCC figures are concerned that there has been a lapse in action to achieve several key aims, which have now become even more vital owing to the serious challenges the sector faces.
The council is to hold an urgent meeting with its members in December to discuss a way forward. The body wants the APPG to back and fully support its call for government help in the face of the severe staff shortages that have hit the sector and threaten the nation’s recovery from coronavirus.
Many companies 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 2,000 vacancies and some firms were reporting that vacancies had increased by 252 per cent and 267 per cent in the previous six months.
The council said it acknowledges that there has been some progress in the drive towards setting up an accredited industry-wide training programme and apprenticeship for the sector; these actions have been completed by an industry Trailblazer group sponsored by the BCC – but other progress remains scant.
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 wellbeing. We cannot assist in protecting people from coronavirus if we don’t have the staff to keep buildings and facilities clean.
“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.”