Right now, we have a national shortage of cleaners. At the same time, we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Is cleaning about to become a luxury only affordable to the super-rich?

Cleaners are in high demand, and pay for cleaners is spiralling. A recent report from the British Cleaning Council highlights a “perfect storm” of staff shortages in the cleaning industry. Migrant workers from the EU and Eastern Europe returned home following Brexit, former cleaners didn’t return after furlough, and others moved into other jobs. This has resulted in a record number of vacancies in the cleaning sector. And this raises some interesting questions about pay for cleaners.

How much should cleaners be paid?

At Just Helpers we have campaigned for years for cleaning work to be valued and recognised with decent working conditions and fair pay. All of our colleagues receive in excess of the London Living Wage, and we have championed the LLW across our industry. 

With the shortage of cleaners nationally, the value of their work has dramatically escalated. We are in exciting, uncharted territory when it comes to pay for cleaners. 

But perhaps we should also be asking – how much SHOULD our cleaners be paid? If we get caught up in the scramble to attract and keep cleaners, are we at risk of contributing to the cost of living crisis affecting all of us?

Cleaning and Affordability

Anecdotally, we are hearing reports of cleaning agencies in London offering £20 per hour to cleaners. This could mean that their clients are paying upwards of £25-£30 per hour for their cleaning – unaffordable to many households.

Is it right that cleaners are paid more per hour than a teacher, or a nurse? While cleaning is skilled work, most cleaners have not undergone formal qualifications. So how should pay for cleaners compare with these professional roles?

A new situation

In the current climate, the debate is not about whether cleaners are paid the minimum wage, or the London Living Wage. With their services in high demand, many agencies are willing to pay cleaners much more.

But if this wage inflation fuels the cost of living crisis, then cleaners, and all of us, feel the impact. As an ethical business, we have to ask whether letting cleaners’ pay spiral, is the right thing to do.

How much would you pay for your cleaner? 

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