APPG Comment: The Telegraph, ‘As one of last sectors to reopen, why have beauty businesses received the least financial support?’

In a comment piece for The Telegraph, Co-Chairs of the APPG on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing, Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, wrote:

Walking along any High Street in the UK, you are sure find salons that provide hair and beauty services and wellness facilities that provide spa treatments and massages. These businesses are the heart of our local communities, providing important services that support wellbeing, local jobs and contributing masses to the wider economy. However, the survival of business and jobs hangs in the balance and they need urgent financial support.

As Co-Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing, we’ve worked with representatives from across the industry since the pandemic hit as we began to try and secure them the support and recognition they deserve. Time and time again the sector has found itself at the bottom of the list, and the Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan was no different.

Beauty, spa and wellness services were told to remain closed in July and August, with limited sources of income, as the Government deemed them too high risk. Yet we are aware of the remarkable work they have done to ensure their businesses are COVID-secure, procuring the correct PPE, reducing their capacity to allow for social distancing and ensure proper cleaning regimes between each appointment, however this has come at a significant cost.

Having missed out on their peak summer season, the industry watched as their peers in hospitality benefitted from the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. As one of last sectors allowed to reopen, the industry has received the least financial support from the Government. This cannot continue.

We have heard worrying statistics from the National Hair and Beauty Federation that 44% of businesses could not guarantee job security for their employees and that 41% of businesses are not sure they can survive until Christmas. The UK Spa Association stressed that the continued – and unexplained – closure of saunas and steam rooms have affected 77% of their members, impacting their ability to generate revenue and bring their staff back to work.

It remains clear that the Government does not understand the true value of the hair, beauty, spa and wellness industries. We have campaigned for months and wrote countless letters to Ministers highlighting the £30 billion contribution the industry makes to the economy; the opportunities it provides to young people, women and local entrepreneurs; and the important role it plays in keeping the Great British High Street alive.

This is why we are calling on the Government to introduce a ‘Treat Out to Help Out’ scheme, to inject the stimulus the industry needs to get back on its feet. The Treasury must also extend the VAT reduction that hospitality and leisure enjoy to hair, beauty, spa and wellness services. With these measures in place, we can create demand for these services and provide a much needed boost to the sector.

With the months ahead looking increasingly uncertain, the Treasury must recognise the limited cash flow business owners and individuals in the sector are facing. Businesses also need reassurance that they will be supported in the event of a local lockdown, as we know they will be the first to be forced to shut their doors. That is why we’re calling on the Government to provide extra financial support for businesses in hotspots, now and in the future, to ensure they are financially viable once restrictions lift.

Times are tough for many. But no sector has been overlooked as much as the hair, beauty, spa and wellness industry. Many have asked us why this is the case. We sincerely hope it is not because the industry is dominated by women, people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community. However if lockdown restrictions continue and financial support is not given to those in the industry, it is certain we will see the loss of many of our salons, spas and wellness facilities, along with the economic and social benefits that it brings.