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UK faces shortage of cleaners following pandemic

Overseas workers returning home and cleaning operatives changing jobs following the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a shortage of cleaners in the UK, according to the British Cleaning Council.

The British Cleaning Council surveyed 11 firms to assess the extent of the issue. Two firms revealed vacancy rates of 12 percent and 16.8 percent respectively, while a third company claimed to have received almost 100 resignations in the past six months alone.

BCC chairman Jim Melvin claims he has never before known it to be this challenging to recruit staff.

"If it continues it could affect the UK's ability to fight this virus - and possibly any other - and in doing so there is clear potential for the public's health and safety to be put at risk," he said.

He claims the problem is due to many foreign workers have left the country while other cleaners have switched to jobs in the hospitality, HGV transport, and FM sectors. "In the meantime, we are facing severe problems," said Melvin.

Of the 11 firms surveyed, two saw vacancies increase by more than 250 per cent during the past six months. And the 11 firms listed a total of 1,917 vacancies during the same period.

A change in immigration rules in 2021 means that cleaning staff are now being classed as low-skilled workers. BBC deputy chair Delia Cannings is calling for this decision to be reversed.

"We have seen a mass exodus of cleaning staff across the NHS and the labour pool is diminishing at an alarming rate," she said.

"We are heading for disaster as a limited pool of agency staff, many without training, are sent into our hospitals to replace leavers and provide an NHS cleaning service."