This afternoon I was delighted to speak with Victoria from the National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF) and local salon owners Frank, Colette and Nelly to discuss the challenges facing the personal care sector.
Carshalton and Wallington is home to many fantastic hair and beauty salons which are the centre of our community hubs. As businesses increasingly seek to trade online, the personal care sector is vital to securing the future of our high street and ensure our communities continue to be the thriving spaces they currently are. I was therefore incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to hear from Frank of Frank Di Lusso Hair, Colette of Enhance Beauty Clinic and Nelly of Nelly Keung Health and Beauty Centre about their experiences across the past 11 months.
With over 140 days of lockdown closure in 2020, many local and national businesses have seen their cash flows severely impacted. According to the NHBF, owners of hair and beauty businesses took an average cash hit of £17,000 in 2020, with those over the VAT threshold suffering disproportionately. 1 in 7 businesses are sadly vulnerable to closure, according to a recent NHBF survey, and two-thirds of business owners have rising debts.
With members of my own family involved in the sector, I was delighted to see that hair and beauty salons are among the first to reopen as part of the recently announced roadmap. However, support is necessary to support salons until this point and until restrictions are redundant. In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, copy below, I set out the key asks from the sector and the NHBF ahead of the Budget on Wednesday. This includes a reduction in VAT and a sector- specific crisis fund to support the immediate cashflow problem.
Currently, business rates relief, VAT and the furlough scheme are all due to be paid or come to an end at the exact moment the sector hope to be able to get back on their feet. A reduction in VAT and a specific crisis fund would provide salon owners the security to rebuild their businesses and survive until the summer when restrictions are due to end. I look forward to hearing what is included in the Budget on Wednesday and will continue to discuss how best to support the personal care sector as we ease out of restrictions.
As well as discussing the importance of securing additional financial support for the sector, the NHBF and local businesses also shared the difficulties they have experienced with PPE costs, the affect restrictions have had on the wider hair and beauty supply chain and their concerns for ensuring all businesses are adhering to COVID-19 hygiene standards. These are all issues I will continue to discuss with the NHBF, BEIS and my ministerial colleagues.
Thank you again to Victoria, Frank, Colette and Nelly for sharing their experiences and concerns with me today.