Legal hand car washes “outnumbered” by illegal sites as £2.5m in fines handed out

Hand car washes are a hotbed for illegal activity, with legal operated sites outnumbered by non-compliant firms, the Car Wash Association has claimed.

Home Office data revealed that 87 hand car washes across the UK were fined some £2.5 million for ‘right to work’ offences in 2023.

The CWA has used it as another push for the establishment of a National Licensing Scheme, which would ensure all these areas of non-compliance are properly enforced.

“Non-compliant hand car washes, that vastly outnumber legally operated sites, are blatantly disregarding employment laws, with minimal enforcement from the relevant authorities,” said Gordon Balmer, CWA boss.

“When employment laws are ignored, people suffer. These hand car washes, many of which only accept payment in cash, are often a hotbed of modern slavery and other illegal activities, such as money laundering and tax evasion.

“The continued lack of action on this issue empowers these criminals and endangers lives.”.

Speaking about what must next be done, he added: “A National Licensing Scheme must be part of any prospective Government’s strategy to address these employment law violations. Inaction allows criminals to operate with impunity.

“The CWA is urging the next government to make this a top priority in their legislative agenda.

“Work is already being done by the CWA and Nottingham Trent University to establish a framework for a National Licensing Scheme. We call on legislators to partner with us to ensure that victims are supported, and offenders are brought to justice.”

Any government response will not be given until after the upcoming elections on 4 July.

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