Fears of modern day slavery, health and safety breaches, and tax avoidance at hand car washes are some of the concerns hoped to be tackled by the newly launched Responsible Car Wash Scheme.
Numerous agencies across government, from the Environment Agency to HMRC, have contributed to creating the new scheme. It could mean that the end of the cheap hand car wash is over, but at least drivers will be able to have a clean conscience.
With up to 20,000 car washes operating across the UK, the potential for regulatory breaches is huge. Whilst many do operate within the law, agencies such as the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) are well aware of workers being exploited, or denied the correct protective equipment.
The Responsible Car Wash Scheme will allow operators to become accredited members. This will involve guidance on how to ensure they are operating legally, combined with audits and assessments of working practices. Spot checks will also be undertaken to ensure that members are adhering to the rules.
Scheme members will be able to display a special logo, marking them out clearly to consumers. The aim is that this will enable drivers to pick a car wash that is ethically and environmentally sound.
As a result, standards across the car wash industry should hopefully be raised, whilst unscrupulous operators may find that their business dries up.
Five major supermarkets have backed the scheme, aiming to be the first to ensure that car washes operated on their sites meet the requirements. In turn, this should enable the public to become familiar with the logo of the Responsible Car Wash Scheme. Darryl Dixon from the GLAA believes the Scheme will be important to operators, but also so that consumer can “make a simple decision of using a legal operator or not.”
A pilot will be undertaken across the Midlands area throughout November. The results of this will determine a roll out across the wider UK.
For those concerned at the idea of having to pay more, drivers can rest assured that the scheme will not extend to press-ganging their children to wash the car on a Sunday morning for pocket money.