As we enter the ‘final days of Brexit’ (or maybe not- who knows at this point) it is important to discuss how this historic change will impact our industry. Brexit will impact every person in the UK (and to a slightly lesser extent across the EU), but this will focus on how it will shape the cleaning industry (currently estimated at £7 billion) over the coming years. The chairman of BICSc, Britain’s largest cleaning council, stepped down shortly after the referendum- saying ‘I remain confident that the UK cleaning industry can weather any potential Brexit storm, but I won’t be at the forefront of our new brave world outside the EU’. With the deadline approaching and the large amount of uncertainty still surrounding Brexit over three years later it is hard to know what will happen to cleaning- but some educated predictions can be made.
Importation of goods is going to be greatly restricted, especially if no deal is agreed. The pound has already lost significant value since the referendum, and further losses are expected based on the deal (or no deal) we leave with. This also impacts the equipment imported, raising prices to buy and lowering the export cost.
Across the industry over 25% of cleaners do not have British citizenship, 7% higher than the average in other sectors. The loss of freedom of movement will significantly reduce the number of potential candidates and means staffing changes across the industry. The ‘low skill’ migrant workers which were such a hot topic during the referendum debates make up the backbone of the cleaning industry- and their loss will likely be the biggest change the industry sees after Brexit. As we are based in Southampton, with a non-UK population of 22.9%, the loss of EU migration is going to be heavily felt.
As cleaning is a service, the knock-on effect of Brexit’s impact on our customers will also impact our company. With the loss of significant manufacturers and businesses, there are many suggesting that a recession is imminent. If these are correct, the cleaning industry will likely be severely impacted and could face extreme economic issues.
With little government guidance on post-Brexit business, no deal being firmly on the table, and a general election imminent that may completely overturn all current Brexit predictions, it is a confusing time for Britain. Cleaning is not the most important part of the Brexit negotiations, but the industry, Ikon, and our employees will all be affected by whatever happens in the coming weeks.