Economic Value of Textile Services
50 MILLION A SHEETS A WEEK: BREXIT THREAT TO THE HIDDEN ECONOMY KEEPING HOSPITALS AND HOTELS AFLOAT
Revealed today in an exclusive report, commercial laundry services are one of the hidden engines driving the UK’s health, hospitality and manufacturing sectors. A cocktail of economic challenges may bring mega-sized laundrettes to a grinding halt, causing a detrimental impact on the UK economy.
- Small and industrial-sized laundry firms decontaminate 13 million sheets and scrubs a week to keep England’s 142,000 hospital beds free from infection and guarantee patient safety.
- They enable the UK’s 45,000 hotels to function; critical at a time when a record 40 million tourists visited the UK in the last year.
- Modern manufacturing systems can be shut down by contamination from human hair or skin oils, making the UK’s automotive and technology sectors reliant on specialist textile cleaning services to function.
Friday 10th November: The commercial laundry industry is the hidden engine behind several key sectors of our economy, but findings in an economic report published today by the Textile Services Association (TSA) - the body representing small and industrial-sized laundry firms - suggests the industry is reliant on migrant labour from the EU.
To iron out these issues, the TSA is today calling on the Government to secure a transitional deal that prioritises a flexible immigration system and minimal import tariffs to allow for access to labour, industrial equipment and cleaning chemicals. Members continue to invest record levels in innovation and automation in their plants, but given the sector contributes £1.86 billion to the UK economy, the Government must secure a good deal post Brexit.
Key quotes from the report:
- Department of Health: “Laundry and its products should preserve the patient’s dignity, promote the patient’s care, and be appropriate to the patient group, gender, clinical status, religion and beliefs”.
- Radisson Blu: “Clean linen is vital to our operations. If we don’t have clean linen, we can’t make beds. If you can’t make beds, you can’t sell rooms. Without it, you can’t survive”.
- Vauxhall Motors: “The provision of garments is absolutely imperative. We couldn’t run if we didn’t have garments. If we have a problem with supply, we can’t build”.
The UK’s £1.86 billion commercial laundry industry faces four main economic challenges according to the report:
- Brexit – the industry’s workforce is made up of 40% non-UK EU Nationals who fear an uncertain status for themselves and their family members.
- Recruitment – the sector directly employs 34,400 people yet TSA’s survey found 62% of laundry firms had unfilled vacancies and 41% found it took longer to fill vacant posts than last year.
- Downward pressure on prices – the sustained record plunge in sterling since Brexit has pushed up import prices for cleaning products, chemicals, and machinery.
- Rising costs of production – in the second quarter of 2017, costs had increased by a weighted average of 4.05%, more than the 2.6% rate of inflation (CPI).
If costs continue to rise, the UK may face funding shortfalls in the NHS and increased costs for tourists when booking hotels and eating in restaurants across the country. Further, the findings show the commercial laundry industry provides £260m to the UK Exchequer, while cleaning and laundering 53 million individual textile pieces per week.
Commenting Dr Philip Wright, Chief Executive of the TSA said:
“The report proves that a surprising number of UK industries are reliant on textile services in order to operate. Everyone from patients, tourists, factory workers and chefs rely on products processed by TSA member firms without realising, yet their absence would cause monumental disruption.”
“TSA members face a number of economic challenges and call on the Government to make the right choices during Brexit negotiations to ensure access to labour and vital cleaning products remain affordable after we leave the European Union.”