Gordon Balmer, Executive Director of the Car Wash Association, said:

“Modern slavery is often practised in broad daylight, with non-compliant hand car wash operators openly flouting employment and environmental regulations with total impunity.

“Hand car washes make up a significant portion of the UK’s informal economy, giving illegal migrants the recourse to work in a cash-in-hand, unregulated sector. Sadly, these migrants quickly fall victim to gang masters who leverage their vulnerability into personal profit.

“The lack of political interest has been alarming. The Government’s abandonment of their manifesto pledge to establish a Single Enforcement Body was an explicit message to gangmasters that they may continue to operate without any meaningful intervention.

“I was extremely pleased that Gary Sambrook MP gave a voice to these victims of modern slavery by asking the Prime Minister if he intended to crack down on unscrupulous practitioners by implementing a long overdue national licensing scheme.”

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notes to editors

1. “We will create a single enforcement body and crack down on any employer abusing employment law” – Conservative Manifesto 2019, p.39

  1. 2. Gary Sambrook MP (Birmingham Northfield) asked the following question to Rishi Sunak during PMQs on 03/05/2023:
  2. “Non-compliant hand car washes seem like a cheap and quick way to have our cars washed, but unfortunately, behind this £1.8bn industry is hidden money laundering, fraud, drug-dealing, prostitution, labour abuse, modern day slavery, tax avoidance and many other sinister crimes. There is an estimated half a billion pounds lost in tax revenue, a pull factor for illegal migration and the pollutants used are often damaging to the environment. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that we must now step away from the voluntary scheme and have a mandatory scheme to protect people.”

About Car Wash Association

The Car Wash Association was originally established in 2007 by wash operators and industry suppliers and is now officially incorporated as part of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI).