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UK cleaning industry statistics 2024


UK cleaning industry statistics 2024

Most will remember the crucial role cleaners played in protecting the public’s health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Well, according to the latest statistics from the UK cleaning industry, they’ve remained on the frontline ever since, offering services that are as vital – and in demand – as ever.

Yet despite year-on-year growth, the industry faces challenges – including pressures caused by rising energy costs and severe staff shortages.

At a time when industry heads are calling for the government to recognise cleaning and hygiene as a national priority, this article looks at the latest cleaning statistics for the UK, including domestic and commercial cleaning services.

All figures quoted are the most up-to-date at the time of publishing.

The UK cleaning industry: a ‘top ten’ employer

The British Cleaning Council (BCC) found that employees in the cleaning, hygiene, and waste disposal sector continue to make up 5% of the UK’s entire workforce – 1.47 million people in total.

According to their most recent 2022 report, this includes those working in non-core cleaning services, such as cabin crew or hospitality staff, who clean as part of their job.

The figures remain unchanged from 2021’s report, which found that employment numbers had dropped from 1.76 million in 2018 (likely due to the impact of Covid-19).

The BCC also found that the UK cleaning industry directly employed over 941,00 individuals in 2022 – 2% less than in the previous year.

Despite this, the UK still comes fifth globally in terms of numbers of employees working as cleaners, making it a ‘top ten’ employer.

And the sector continues to grow, with 69,005 cleaning businesses operating in 2021 – up from 66,420 in 2020.

UK cleaning industry statistics at a glance

  • The UK cleaning industry employs 1.47 million people in total.
  • In 2019, cleaners contributed £58.9 billion to the UK economy, amounting to a £1.6 billion increase in industry turnover since 2018.
  • In 2021, there were 69,005 cleaning businesses in the UK – up from almost 66,420 in 2020.
  • The cleaning industry employs more non-British workers than average, at 21% (the average across all employment sectors is 18%). However, this is lower than in 2019, when 25% of workers came from overseas.
  • Cleaners in the UK can expect to earn an average hourly rate of £10.21 in 2024. This is below the current living wage of £10.42 and 3.1% less than the average hourly rate in 2020 (£10.50).
  • Most cleaning businesses are small, with nine out of ten employing fewer than 10 people.
  • Almost all cleaning businesses (99%) are independently owned.
  • The industry as a whole employs more women than men, with 56% of workers female and 44% male. However, there are some notable differences across different roles. For example, 79% of cleaning & hygiene operatives and domestic workers are female, while 99% of street cleaners are male.

The cleaning industry market

First, the good news.

The most recent UK cleaning industry statistics show continuous year-on-year growth since 2010. Then, just under 46,000 companies were in operation. In 2021, the total number of cleaning businesses in the UK is around 69,005.

As a result, industry turnover has increased by 22% since 2015, in line with all economic growth.

All subsectors, bar landscaping services, saw year-on-year growth between 2015-2021. Including contract cleaning companies, 52% of which experienced rapid growth in 2021, according to market researchers MTW.

A growth in the number of businesses in the UK is benefiting carper cleaners. This is because new businesses want to make sure their premises are spick and span before opening their doors to customers.

Commercial cleaners are also doing well, with steadily increasing numbers of people searching ‘commercial cleaners’ online as more and more office workers return to their regular places of work.

Google Trends also indicated a drop in demand for ‘deep cleaning services’ over 2021 and 2022, while searches for ‘robot vacuum and mop’ rocketed by 120%.

However, the future’s not all rosy. Industry experts agree that recruitment within cleaning is much harder today. And while the BCC predicts the UK cleaning industry will generate 93,000 new jobs by 2024, it also predicts that 29% of those jobs will be ‘hard to fill’.

Challenges for the cleaning industry in 2024

While the pandemic has taken a backseat, challenges exist within the UK cleaning industry, with rising numbers of job vacancies (an estimated 225,000 of them) causing the biggest concern among industry heads.

To highlight the crisis, the BCC’s latest research indicates that between 50-60% of cleaning companies can’t fulfill the hours they’re contracted to do due to staff shortages.

As higher cleaning and hygiene standards become part of the new normal, cleaning staff face burnout due to increased workloads and employee shortages (though to be as high as 40%, compared to 20% in other sectors).

According to a survey carried out by the BCC at the end of 2021, which interviewed 11 cleaning firms representing over 300,000 workers, those leaving the cleaning sector include foreign nationals going home and employees moving to roles in government-supported industries like transport or hospitality.

Part of the problem might be down to cleaning being regarded as ‘low-skilled work’, and even classified as such under new (tighter) post-Brexit immigration laws introduced in 2021.

Meanwhile, a 2023 trends report by The Cleaning Show cites rising energy prices, supply chain disruption, and the UK’s cost-of-living crisis among ‘the perfect storm of unique challenges’ facing the cleaning industry today.

The solution to the recruitment crisis? With just 27% of cleaners aged over 55, the UK cleaning industry needs to do more to attract younger and more diverse staff, says the BCC.

The Cleaning Show’s report also highlights a bigger push for the development of automated cleaning systems and ‘cobotics’ (collaborative robotics), as well as the need for cleaning and hygiene operatives to have better access to training schemes, flexible working, and employee benefits.

Which areas of the UK have the most cleaning businesses?

Industry growth varied across the UK between 2020 and 2021. England and Northern Ireland experienced the biggest increase in the number of cleaning businesses at 4%, followed by 3% in Scotland and 1% in Wales.

The northeast of England saw the biggest spike in the number of cleaning businesses between 2020-2021, with 5% growth.

Number of cleaning businesses by UK nation in 2021
England – 60,420
Scotland – 4,460
Wales – 2,795
Northern Ireland – 1,330

Number of cleaning businesses by region in 2021
East – 7,410
East Midlands – 4,235
London – 12,430
North East – 1,790
North West – 6,425
South East – 11,365
South West – 6,740
West Midlands – 5,140
Yorkshire and Humber – 4,485

Cleaning business protection

The cleaning industry provides a vital service. The role it played during the Covid-19 pandemic, the above-average number of deaths and hospitalisations in the UK due to flu infections, and the need to maintain high hygiene standards post-pandemic, underline the fact that there’ll always be a need for it.

However, any cleaning company, no matter what size and whether in the domestic, commercial, or waste management fields, needs cleaners’ insurance.

Because, unfortunately, the very nature of the business means things get broken, chemical fluids get spilled, and sometimes people get hurt. Especially when staff are under pressure.

All that costs money to fix, which is where self-employed cleaner insurance can help you. If damage is done, either in someone’s home or on a business’s premises, public liability insurance mops up the legal costs and any compensation you have to pay.

And if you have anyone working for you, you’ll need employers’ liability insurance to protect them in case of illness or injury at work. It’s the law.

You can find out more about insurance for cleaners on our website. Or call 0345 222 5391 to speak to our team.

Image used under license from Shutterstock.

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