Government told by NHBF to speed up distribution of ARG monies available to local authorities
The British hair and beauty sector is calling on the Government to assist with the grant distribution process in order to get vital cash to salons and barbershops in need. Despite the scheduled reopening on 12 April in England, many hair salons and barbers currently face the possibility of permanent closure before they reach that date. So far, only 13 per cent of the £1.6bn Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) monies available to local authorities has been allocated to businesses desperately in need, and the NHBF has identified these grants as a key source of business-saving money that should be made available immediately.
Following the announcement of Budget 2021, the NHBF has expressed that it may be too little too late. Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NHBF says: “We highlighted in our evidence to Government that salons are on the brink of permanent closure. They are unable to take on any more debt to meet the deficit between their fixed outgoings and the current grants and reliefs. Without an immediate cash injection, many will not make it to the point of reopening.”
“The frustrating thing is it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a significant pot of money available to struggling businesses via the Additional Restrictions Grant, which central government has given to local authorities to hand out. The problem we have is that councils have been holding on to this money or setting the eligibility criteria too narrowly, meaning that the money is not getting to those that need it,” he adds.
The NHBF, along with the British Beauty Council, British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology and the UK Spa Association, has written to the Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The group is urging the Government to push local authorities to expand their current eligibility criteria for ARGs to cover more struggling businesses, and speed up the fund allocation process to get this money through to people as soon as possible.
Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined that local authorities must spend the £1.6bn fund in order to receive a further £425m cash-injection. The group representing the Personal Care sector welcomed the Restart Grants but was “bitterly disappointed” the Chancellor did not cut VAT for hair and beauty businesses, despite the COVID Coalition showing the move could be cost neutral for the Treasury. They remain committed to campaigning for better recognition and support for the Personal Care sector.
Check if you’re eligible for the coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grant here and find out how to apply.
To help clear up just what you – business owners, freelancers and salon staff – are entitled to in the way of financial relief, click here to view our Q&A with the director of policy and public affairs at NHBF, Victoria Brownlie.