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Cleaning Matters survey shows impact of Brexit on cleaning industry

16 March 2017

More than 80% of cleaning professionals think the UK post-Brexit should be able to easily hire EU nationals to work in the cleaning industry, a Cleaning Matters survey has revealed. However, only one third (37%) thought it was very likely or likely to happen.

The survey canvassed the opinion of Cleaning Matters magazine's readers in December 2016 on the impact of Brexit on the UK cleaning industry. Two-thirds of respondents believed the price and availability of imported/exported cleaning equipment would be affected once Britain begins the process of leaving the EU. Almost half (46%) of cleaning professionals think the workforce will be affected by Brexit, followed by investment plans (40%), supplier relationships (34%), business processes (25%) and client relationships (22%).

Worryingly, 43% of cleaning professionals are not confident in the UK Government’s ability to negotiate a settlement that would work for the UK cleaning industry. 

In terms of the impact of Brexit on businesses and organisations in the cleaning industry to date, one third (30%) of respondents admitted to putting investment on hold, 9% to cutting down on cleaning schedules and 6% to placing an emphasis on lower-skilled workers. 

On a more positive note, one third of cleaning professionals surveyed (30%) are investing in the training and retention of the workforce, 14% in equipment with better longevity/‘cost in use’, and 11% in technology.

Following the Prime Minister's announcement in January that the UK "cannot possibly" remain within the European single market, Cleaning Matters asked its readers for their opinion on whether leaving the single market would be in the best interests of the UK cleaning sector. 

Two thirds (64%) said yes and only 36% said no. So while the majority of cleaning professionals want to be able to hire EU workers easily, two-thirds also want to leave the single market, which allows the free movement of goods, services, capital and people between EU members.

EU leaders have warned however that the UK cannot access the single market, while at the same time restricting the free movement of people - and the PM has pledged to control EU migration. Despite this, half of those surveyed (50%) felt more positive about Brexit now the Government has clarified its negotiating position. Only 29% felt negative. 

Catherine Hackett, editor of Cleaning Matters, said: "With the impact of the leave vote starting to have a significant effect on the world of work and future planning within organisations, Cleaning Matters asked its readers for their views on key Brexit issues including trade and immigration in order to understand their position, and what response and support will be required by the sector.

"One of the key findings is that the overwhelming majority believe the UK post-Brexit should be able to easily hire EU workers to work in the cleaning industry. This isn't surprising considering that the UK cleaning industry relies on migrant labour more heavily than other economic sectors. 

"But with greater regulation when hiring EU workers looking likely, the cleaning industry could find itself going through some enormous changes in the years ahead. However, opinions are very much split as to whether this will bring opportunities or challenges. This is to be expected considering the divisive issue of Brexit and the vibrancy and diversity of the professional cleaning industry."

Iain Houston, sales manager at Cleaning Matters, added: “We are delighted to launch our Special Reports which reaffirm our position as market leader for cleaning industry publications. This new series of Specials Reports will explore a range of hot button topics for the Cleaning Industry, including Hospitals & Healthcare, which will follow in July.”

The report 'Brexit & the Cleaning Industry' is available to read online here.