Hand car washes Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Environmental pollution

1.The failures to enforce planning and environmental regulations at hand car washes must be rectified. Risk prioritisation by the Environment Agency and water companies should not translate into a permissive licence to pollute for hand car washes or other businesses. (Paragraph 43)

2.The Environment Agency should reinstate its pollution prevention guidance for car washes. We recommend that the Agency also writes to the planning departments of Local Authorities across the UK to remind them that hand car washes should have interceptors installed and be connected to the foul sewer so that their wash water is treated rather than discharged directly into the environment. (Paragraph 44)

3.The Environment Agency should also write to major supermarkets to remind them that any hand car washes operating in their car parks needs to have the appropriate drainage in place connecting to a foul sewer. (Paragraph 45)

4.The Environment Agency should work with immigration, tax recovery and GLAA enforcement to ensure that unannounced inspection of hand car washes are comprehensively investigated for a full range of potential regulatory breaches. (Paragraph 46)

5.The Government should consider whether changes are necessary to the water regulations governing urban diffuse pollution. Water companies should be encouraged to map and report to the environment agency where waste water is not properly being handled. This would help address the lack of data that currently hampers effective enforcement (Paragraph 47)

Labour exploitation

6.It is important to note that not all hand car washes violate labour, employment, taxation, health and safety and environmental regulations. Nevertheless, there appears to be widespread and flagrant rule breaking taking place at hand car washes across the country. This is unacceptable. (Paragraph 95)

7.When it comes to combatting labour exploitation, the failure of authorities to enforce the law appears to be a wider problem. We were astonished to discover that there have only been 14 minimum wage prosecutions since 1999. Prosecuting more employers for non-payment of the minimum wage would send a stronger signal that the Government is serious about enforcing labour market laws. HMRC should work with other Labour Market Enforcement agencies and consider using prosecution for non-payment of the minimum wage as a means to clamp down on premises where serious labour exploitation is suspected to be taking place. (Paragraph 96)

8.We also encourage HMRC to explore potential tax evasion by hand car wash operators to establish the extent of material revenue leakage from the public purse from these operators and to develop strategies to recover tax due. (Paragraph 97)

9.We are encouraged that the GLAA and Director of Labour Market Enforcement are stepping up their efforts to tackle labour exploitation at hand car washes. Ensuring that hand car washes operating on the car parks of major supermarkets are compliant is the first step. We welcome the Responsible Car Wash Scheme. The public must have confidence that hand car washes at major supermarkets operate within the law. The Government should ensure that large businesses hosting hand car washes include them in their Modern Slavery Act transparency statements. (Paragraph 98)

10.To make enforcement easier, the Government should trial a licencing scheme for hand car washes that brings together all of the major compliance requirements, including on environmental pollution, into a single, more easily enforceable, legal requirement. The Government should also review whether the Modern Slavery Act 2015 could be updated to cover businesses as small as hand car washes. (Paragraph 99)

Published: 15 November 2018