Edinburgh cleaners left ‘high and dry’ unable to work and excluded from grants

Domestic cleaners working in the capital have seen their income fall by up to 90 per cent during the pandemic.

By Shona Elliott
Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 12:30 pm
Domestic cleaners working in the Capital have seen their income fall by up to 90 per cent during the pandemic.
Domestic cleaners working in the Capital have seen their income fall by up to 90 per cent during the pandemic.

Unlike their English counterparts, domestic cleaners in Scotland are not allowed to work, apart from those carrying out essential duties for people physically unable to do housework.

Blocked from working and ineligible for the Strategic Framework Business Fund grant industry leaders say individuals cannot cope without significant support.

The industry’s trade union - Domestic Cleaning Business Network (DCBN) - is lobbying Scotland’s 32 local authorities to provide support through their individual discretionary funds.

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Director of DCBN Krissi Foskett said: “Although furloughing support is available for cleaning companies with staff, thousands of domestic cleaners working alone have been left high and dry, individuals who have no other source of income to support themselves and put food on the table.”

Dundee City Council has become the first to release funds to domestic cleaners but the DCBN insists it needs all local authorities to follow suit.

Ms Foskett said: “Some discretionary grants are being released now and we are delighted that Dundee council have named cleaning companies in their eligibility criteria, but more councils need to do the same.

Jen Burton, 46, from Davidson Mains set up cleaning company Landlords Little Helper in Stockbridge four years ago.

The mother-of-two agreed that Edinburgh City Council needs to follow Dundee’s actions and open up discretionary grants to domestic cleaning businesses.

She said: “In Dundee, the council has added domestic cleaning to the list of businesses able to apply for discretionary grants.

“Edinburgh council have not and we desperately need them to offer grant support so we can keep ticking over until we can get out to work again.”

Mrs Burton went on to explain that the current exclusion from grants is forcing cleaners to take work they should not just to make ends meet.

She said: “I hear about cleaners working in the city who feel they have to break the rules just to make ends meet.

“People are so desperate for work they are working for under minimum wage which should never be the case."

Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener Councillor Kate Campbell said Edinburgh City Council will offer financial aid as soon as possible.

Cllr Campbell said: “We know how important this fund is to businesses, but we also wanted to make sure that we’re reaching the businesses that need it the most and that have been ineligible for other funds.

“It’s a limited pot of money and so we’ve been working hard to make sure we get this right, that we aren’t excluding any businesses in need, but also that we’re doing our best to target the fund towards the businesses that need it the most.

“The process won’t be perfect, but we’re trying our best. We’ve been consulting with partners like the FSB and Chamber of Commerce who have been amazing at helping us to sense check our approach. They’ve shared their valuable knowledge and understanding of their members experiences to help us draft the best framework we think is possible in the circumstances, and we’ve also had very useful input from other elected members.

“We’re taking the report to a special committee on Friday so that we can start supporting those businesses in need as soon as possible.”

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