24 March 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Research by the British Cleaning Council (BCC) suggests that there are about 1.63 million workers in the industry - making up around 5 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 and shop workers who clean stores, gives a true picture of the scale and importance of the sector.
The figures put cleaning on a par with the transport and storage sectors and make it one of the top 10 largest UK industries for employment.
The BCC, the body representing the UK cleaning industry, includes the figures in its fifth annual research report, which classifies cleaning into four core types: cleaning activities, facilities management, landscape service activities and waste and resource management.
Overall, employment in the industry has increased 5 per cent between 2015 and 2018 - greater than the whole economy, which recorded a 3 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 (Office of National Statistics 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 turnover in the cleaning industry.
Cleaning provides a vital service for the nation, ensuring that 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 said: "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."