An initiative named the ‘Responsible Car Wash Scheme’ has been launched by the House of Lords.
The Scheme aims to tackle modern slavery and a lack of compliance within the industry. It will target labour abuse and lack of adherence to regulations at hand car washes, whilst enabling consumers to identify a compliant car wash.
Operators who are members of the Scheme will be able to be recognised by consumers as ones who: look after their workers, trade legally, adhere to environmental regulations and take care of their customers and their vehicles.
Darryl Dixon from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority said, “We have seen numerous problems across this industry, from modern day slavery, debt bondage, failure to pay proper wages, through to workers not being provided with any appropriate or personal protective equipment. Whilst enforcement is crucial, education is also essential to both operators, so that they can ensure they operate legally, but also to consumers, so they can make the simple decision of using a legal operator or not. This Scheme is a big step forward in addressing these issues.”
Brian Madderson, Chair of the Car Wash Association gave the scheme a more muted reception: “Whilst this is welcome news and will allow hand car washes to look after their workers, trade legally, adhere to environmental regulations and take care of their customers, it still leaves open the issue of the 20,000 hand car washes in the UK that operate illegally” he said.
“Problems also include environmental damage from mishandling trade effluent, widespread disregard of the National Minimum Wage, modern slavery human trafficking and tax avoidance. Figures suggest that hand car washes are failing to pay taxes, and up to £1.45 billion per year in tax is not being collected by HMRC” concluded Madderson.
The Scheme will provide a resource for operators, providing them with information and guidance so they can operate legally. Once a member of the Scheme, operators will be able to display a Responsible Car Wash Operator logo which will enable consumers to make a clear choice between a fully compliant operator, that has been through the accreditation.