The British Cleaning Council’s 2022 report

Established in 1982, the British Cleaning Council (BCC) is the authoritative voice of UK cleaning, hygiene and waste industry.

The BCC releases a research report packed with interesting and revealing facts and figures about the sector every year. Some interesting insights on the cleaning, hygiene & waste sector are revealed by the British Cleaning Council’s 2022 research report, published 6th April.

The number of sector businesses grew to 69,005 in 2021 and the number of employees working in the sector remained static at 1.47 million. The number of people employed in the cleaning, hygiene & waste sector in 2021 was approximately 5% of the UK workforce: the industry remains one of the top 10 biggest industries in the UK. According to the latest information available, the industry contributed £58.9 billion to the UK economy in 2019, up from the previous year, showing that it went into the pandemic in robust health. All subsectors, bar landscape service activities, saw a year-on-year growth in turnover up to 2021.

This year’s report says that the number of sector businesses grew from nearly 66,420 in 2020 but included a number of opportunistic firms which started up during the pandemic offering cleaning services. The report said that the cleaning & hygiene industry directly employed over 941,000 people in 2021, 2% less than the previous year. The much higher figure quoted above includes cleaning across other industries such as public services and hospitality. Many BCC member organisations have also reported a greater interest in firms joining.

A BCC survey of the sector during the first year of the pandemic demonstrated how variable the impact of Covid-19 had been on the industry, with some sectors and businesses seeing work drying up and staff going into furlough, while others saw a boom in demand. The new research also found that the cleaning & hygiene industry was quite competitive and nearly nine in 10 firms were micro businesses, employing fewer than 10 individuals.

It also identified some challenges for the sector, including a record number of job vacancies.
Employers in the cleaning sector need to adapt to a rapidly changing workforce if they are to win the ‘frantic’ battle for workers, it says. With 27% of the workforce aged over 55 years, the industry needs to do more to attract younger staff, the report says.

In terms of training, it also highlights the ‘good headway’ made with the proposal for a Cleaning Hygiene Operative apprenticeship. A repeated request across all areas of the industry is the need for basic, entry level qualifications, the report notes.

Clearly, we do not yet have the more recent figures which will show the full impact of the pandemic immediately and in the longer ter – BCC chairman Jim Melvin said – It also is possible that the decline in numbers directly employed by the industry in 2021 is the first sign of the current severe staffing problems, and next year’s report will give a clearer picture”.

Source: BCC –

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