The Car Wash Association’s (CWA’s) lobbying work to expose criminal activity and widespread regulatory non-compliance on hand car washes faces new challenges following the change of government in July. New appointments have been made in all the key ministries relating to the CWA’s work. Regulatory activity needs to be kick-started again to tackle modern slavery, employment abuses, tax fraud, H&S non-compliance and widespread pollution.
The CWA has already written to the new Chancellor Sajid Javid to highlight endemic tax evasion on numerous hand car washes (HCWs) where only cash is accepted and no VAT invoices are available even less offered. HMRC is defrauded of £1bn or more annually equivalent to 25% of the £20bn boost previously pledged over the next five years to the NHS. The money is retained by criminal gangs that control numerous HCWs where, in addition, money laundering and drug dealing is known to occur.
Alongside this, the CWA has also requested an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary Priti Patel to emphasise the extent of human trafficking and labour abuse occurring virtually unchallenged on HCWs. Successful crackdowns are regrettably few and far between although the trial of eight Polish human traffickers who received prison sentences of up to 11 years for running a network of 400 workers, many of them as slaves living in the most abject conditions, was a welcome bright spot.
Another urgent case concerns the toxic effluent from HCWs about which the CWA has already written to Theresa Villiers, newly-appointed Secretary of State at DEFRA. Many of these HCWs operate with blatant disregard for effluent regulations, daily polluting streams and water tables with aggressively toxic chemicals.
This problem will ultimately be resolved when the public choose to vote with their feet but first customers must become aware of the human misery caused by these crimes committed in plain sight.
Perhaps with Boris’ favoured ’can do’ attitude we can finally put an end to this shameful practice so that the UK ceases to be the world’s car wash slavery capital?