A study by UK’s New Economics Foundation quantifies the social, environmental and economic value of hospital cleaners and waste management staff
The New Economics Foundation has released a study that places hospital cleaners above City bankers in terms of their worth to society. Their report on the social impacts of six different professions revealed that City workers, advertising executives and tax advisers destroyed financial wealth, while hospital cleaners, childcare workers and staff in the waste-recycling industry all create a positive return to the British economy. The report, ‘A Bit Rich’ was published on 14th December 2009.
The centre-left thinktank reveals how much a worker should be paid in relation to the value they produce, using a series of measures such as economic growth and environmental impact to calculate the effect that these indicators have on the general wellbeing of society.
Breaking away from the traditional model that links wages exclusively with the amount of profit produced for employers, the report looked at ‘externalities’, the true consequences of economic activities, to "quantify the social, environmental and economic value that people’s work produces, or in some cases the value that is undermined or destroyed."
Investment banker’s generation of wealth has been offset by the cost and negative impact of the banking crisis on public finances, while advertising executives cost society by perpetuating over-consumption and creating socially and environmentally wasteful wants.
Meanwhile, hospital cleaners alleviate the human and financial cost of hospital acquired infections and make a significant contribution to the wider social value created by healthcare. Waste-recycling workers help cut carbon emissions significantly and contribute to the recycling industries output.
The report found that hospital cleaners create more than £10 in value for every £1 they receive in pay, and waste-recycling workers generate £12 for every £1 spent on their wages. Contrastingly, City bankers destroy £7 of value for every £1 they create; while advertising executives eradicate £11 from the economy for every £1 they are paid.
Andrew Large, Chief Executive of the Cleaning and Support Services Association, commented on the report: ‘It is widely accepted that the cleaning industry is a key factor in protecting patients from hospital acquired infections, but these findings demonstrate the additional economic value our industry creates. As stated in the report, this worth is not being transmitted to the pay or prestige of the cleaning industry. Our work is vital to the nation’s health and wellbeing while adding unqualified value to the economy, we hope that the report’s findings are recognised by business and government and that all workers are appropriately remunerated for the contribution they make.’
Steve Wright, Chairman of the British Cleaning Council, said: ‘Workers in the waste-management sector deserve recognition for their role in increasing recycling so dramatically in the UK in recent years, as they have overseen the substantial reduction in the landfill waste which has been so damaging to the environment. As the UK strives to meet sustainability targets in the future, their expertise and experience will be a vital asset to this cause. We support the conclusions of the New Economics Foundation’s report, its recognition of the social value of the waste management industry and hope that the government provides our industry with the backing that it deserves’.