Hair & beauty salons are the backbone and heartbeat of our local High Streets. But, as the lockdown continues, all salons are being hit harder and harder and many are being left with no choice but to close because the finances have run dry.
That’s why I’m joining other salon owners across the personal service industry and campaigning for a reduction in VAT – like the government has granted for hospitality.
I’ve written to Hornchurch MP Julia Lopez and asked for her support, here’s what I said…
The Vanilla Room Hornchurch needs your help to SAVE OUR SALON – Please help us to CHOP THE VAT FOR HAIR & BEAUTY
My name is Kerry Larcher, you may remember my hair and beauty salon ‘The Vanilla Room’ in Hornchurch High Street. You so kindly praised our contribution to Hornchurch as we commemorated the salon’s 25th Anniversary in November. I know you have been impressed with the measures we have put in place to keep our team and clients safe. I currently employ 40+ staff mostly from within your constituency, many whom I have seen grow from school leaving apprentices to successful working Mum’s. I have trained many of the salon owners in the local area, who are now themselves providing employment and apprenticeships in Havering and I speak for many of us in writing this letter. We are facing a tough financial future and I am urgently seeking your support to protect the immediate and long-term recovery of our business, and the jobs it supports.
The hairdressing industry was one of the last to open on 4th July with beauty not permitted until mid-August, so whilst our first few weeks post lockdown were obviously busy, we had little time for repeat business from our customers due to the natural gap between salon visits. The timing of the November restrictions came where historically we would have seen increased sales to see us through the leaner quarter after Christmas therefore re-opening with just 3 weeks left to maximise on what was left of the festive season, rendered our turnover projections less than satisfactory. Then on the 20th December, on what should have been our busiest week of the year we were shut down again, with no end date in site for our return to work.
Our landlord like so many on the High Street, is unwilling to provide assistance with a reduction in rent, which means the government’s grants whilst closed; fall far short of our lockdown running costs. The current social distancing restrictions enforced on close contact services which reduce the number of clients we can have in the salon at any time and the long-term unpredicted costs of additional sanitisation and mandatory PPe to provide each service has greatly impacted our general working overheads. In addition to the losses we continue to incur during the lockdowns, we are being squeezed from all directions – whether open or closed.
For the first time in my 25 years as a salon owner I am calling for help, I hope therefore that by contacting you as my MP you may be able to assist with supporting my future in Hornchurch and that of my industry. Here is how you can help.
Upon reopening we require an immediate
Reduction in VAT to 5% for hair & beauty businesses.
The hairdressing, beauty and holistic service industry:
- Contributes *£9.2bn annually to Britain’s economy, employing a workforce of 288,160 people as hair and beauty practitioners in salons and in a self-employed capacity within the UK. (*Source: British Beauty Council / ONS 2019)
- Represents *44,800 VAT and PAYE registered salons in the UK generating £5.4bn annually and employing 189,269 staff. Of this, £3.25bn turnover is generated by 12,300 VAT registered salons who in turn employ 94,686 staff. (*Source: ONS March 2020)
- Generates approximately one-third tax take for HMRC as a proportion of sales (as value is primarily added via the employed workforce)
- Enables flexible working patterns to support family life, increasing economic opportunities and entrepreneurship for women. *88.6% of this sector’s workforce are female. (*Source: Economic Impact Assessment – Hair and Barber Council)
- Provides numerous apprenticeship opportunities to help young people into work
- Underpins the ‘human’ high street; attracting footfall of millions of consumers per day to retail centres, provides a community hub, supports other local retail while promoting personal wellbeing and essential emotional support at times of crisis
In a recent survey of 5,000 salons, 62% were unsure if their businesses would survive past the end of the financial year. It was further reported that 18% were sure they would close. (Source: National Hair and Beauty Federation – Survey 2nd Dec 2020). The consequent social poverty for those who work within them, in particular women, will be a huge social casualty, with many having to fall back on benefits.
Unlike other sectors who have received significant support the personal care sector has been largely overlooked, despite extended periods of closure and the inability for our services to be substituted or transition online.
The viability of our business is being massively challenged and so a reduction in VAT, once we are able to start trading again, will make a significant difference to the survival of our business and is the most cost-effective way of keeping our workforce employed.
As my local MP, I would welcome a meeting with you at the earliest opportunity to demonstrate the investment we have made to provide COVID-secure operations within our business and to discuss my concerns. I look forward to hearing from you.