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5% of UK workforce in cleaning industry

UK cleaning industry revealed to be 5% of national workforce

New research by the British Cleaning Council (BCC) has revealed that there are approximately 1.63m workers in the cleaning industry, making up around 5% of the UK workforce.

This total has been 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, which gives a truer picture of the scale and importance of the sector.

The figures put cleaning on a par with the Transport and Storage Sector, making 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 and waste and resource management.

Overall, employment in the industry has increased 5% between 2015 and 2018, greater than the economy as a whole, which recorded 3% growth in the same period. Cleaning contributed over £54.5bn to the economy in 2018, with overall turnover increasing by 28% since 2013 – which is double the 15% 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 £14bn in 2018 and now accounts for 26% 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.”

The report was due to be launched at the Manchester Cleaning Show 2020, which has been delayed until 15 – 16 September due to the Coronavirus pandemic. For an electronic copy of the report, please email

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