Anthony Hilton: Cutting back too quickly on the cleaners makes a real mess of everything
The population of Iceland is one of the most content in the world
Saturday 18 May 2013
There is a trade association in this country for almost every part of the economy including, would you believe, contract cleaners. I know because on Friday I was at its annual meeting in the Savoy Hotel.
Many businesses say they are a barometer of the wider economy but contract cleaning has a better claim than most, if only for the rather depressing reason that it is one of the first things executives look to cut when times get tough.
Executives don’t actually go so far as to dispense with having their premises cleaned but they always seem to think there will be another firm which will do it cheaper. When that does not work they have the cleaners in less frequently or pay for a quick tidy-up rather than a deep-clean service.
As a result the industry has taken its share of the pain since the economy turned down. But in common with the Governor of the Bank of England its members did seem to see signs of improvement. Indeed, given what they have been through, the mood was reasonably cheerful.
Actually, the number one talking point was a new book which highlights the unforeseen consequences of the austerity programme.* The book has mined official statistics and finds that cuts in these basic unsung services have led to alarming rises in HIV in countries such as Greece, increases in the number of suicides and a surge in a whole range of illnesses in between.
This caused particular alarm because this country has cut back its programme of deep cleaning hospitals – the one brought in a few years ago to try to reverse the alarming rise in infections.
What the book shows, however, is that it does not have to be like this. It is the rushed and undiscriminating bluntness of an austerity drive which does much of the damage. Better-thought-through cuts in, for example, Scandinavia have achieved the required savings but largely avoided adverse outcomes.
Most remarkable of all is Iceland, which went out of its way to protect its citizens in the economic collapse after its banking crash. Not only has growth bounced back but the population has regained its ranking as one of the most content in the world.
Perhaps it is time our politicians took their cues from cleaners rather than taxi drivers.
* The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...