Why are hair & beauty businesses being penalised?

Ellie NHBF

The British Beauty Council (BBCo) and National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF) have joined forces to send an open letter to the Chancellor Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, following hundreds of reports that over 60 local authorities are excluding hair & beauty businesses from claiming the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).

Despite reassurance from HM Treasury that businesses in the hair & beauty sector, including hair salons, beauty salons, barbershops, aestheticians, nail bars, eyebrow bars etc are all eligible for the ARG, the BBCo, NHBF and other sector bodies are continuing to receive reports that these local authorities are either rejecting or not prioritising claims from these businesses. A number of local authorities are also still working out their grant policies since the announcement in December and have yet to make grants available to businesses desperate for support. 

The joint letter was sent on behalf of the National Hair and Beauty Federation, British Beauty Council, UK Spa Association, British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology, Hair & Barber Council and the Federation of Holistic Therapists.

  In the past the government has stated that the hair and beauty sector is ‘essential’ to the UK’s health and wellbeing whilst contributing almost £30 billion to the UK economy every year and employing 590,500 workers, mostly women and young people, across the UK nations and regions. Pre-Covid, the sector was in the top three fastest growing parts of the retail sector. 

Hair & beauty has been one of the hardest hit sectors by the pandemic. The latest NHBF snap poll shows over 84% of hair & beauty salons and barbershops experienced reduced business compared with what would normally be expected between Christmas and New Year (28-31 December 2021).

Staff shortages due to COVID or self-isolation are also having an impact on businesses with 54% reporting staff absences during this period.*

Richard Lambert, NHBF chief executive says, “Whilst we appreciate that each local authority is entitled to create their own criteria about which businesses receive ARG assistance and that funding will not meet the needs of all businesses affected it does appear that a significant number are actively excluding hair & beauty salons and barbershops in their area. This raises the question as to why – is it because despite all the evidence, they don’t accept these businesses were badly hit by the Omicron surge or perhaps because they just don’t think they’re that important.”

The British Beauty Council’s CEO Millie Kendall OBE says, “Having made a strong case to all local authorities as to how personal care has been impacted more heavily than many other business sectors, we would have hoped to see some movement with regards to the release of the ARG funds to salons etc. The Chancellor himself stated that our industry was not just economically valuable but also essential to Britain’s wellbeing. Whilst our previous work ensured personal care businesses were highlighted within guidance as businesses that should be considered for support, local authorities have chosen to disregard this. They clearly do not regard our industry as essential, or the local businesses that operate within them as worthy of support and we would like to know why?” 

The NHBF and BBCo are urging all hair & beauty salons and barbershops in to send a message to their local authority to ask why they are excluding fellow businesses in the personal care sector from this much needed financial help.

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