Warwick Gates salon owner says she and others are being penalised over Government lockdown support for businesses because her industry is' female-dominated'
A Warwick Gates salon owner feels like she and others are being penalised over support during the Covid-19 pandemic because they are in a female-dominated industry.
Claire Burns-Jackson has owned Pelo for 16 years and has a team of nine working at the business.
Before Lockdown 2.0 she and her staff had been wearing masks and visors, sanitising chair between every client, sanitising debit card machines, door handles, bathrooms and carrying out an extensive health questionnaire before allowing clients to enter the salon.
They had installed large screens to each and every section of the business to allow all clients to be completely isolated with the exception of their stylist.
But the business along with many others across the nation has had to close again until at least early December and Claire is concerned that she is not getting the support from the Government that she needs to keep it afloat.
She said: "My business is being penalised with lower levels of support because the government sees my female-dominated industry (86 per cent female) as lesser to that of male-dominated industries such as bars and clubs where men make up 60 per cent of management.
"This says to many in my industry that the government cares more for hospitality, which is proven in the uneven levels of support that are seen between the two sectors
"The grant, which is available from Warwick District Council will give me just £1,300.
"This will not even cover my business rent let alone other bills which therefore means the self-employed grant I receive will have to go directly to the business.
"This in turn means no personal income for yet another month.
"Lastly, the cutting of VAT for hospitality from 20 per cent to five per cent is another gross reminder of the Government's draconian legislation that picks some livelihoods over others.
"And as I stated above, it would seem it is the livelihoods of women that are being affected more so."
Claire is baffled as to which businesses are allowed to remain open while hers, which has been strict in its sanitising and other safety measures has had to close again.
She also feels that more help and leeway should have been and should be given to businesses which rely entirely on walk-in customers.
She said: "After the first lockdown was lifted the hospitality sector was aided with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
"The Government then introduced a VAT cut for the hospitality sector from 20 per cent to five per cent and now they can offer takeaways.
"Whilst all industries should always support each other it seems that our industry has been forgotten.
"There has been no “help out scheme” for the hair & beauty industry, neither has there been a VAT cut for us and obviously we cannot offer takeaways. So when they say lockdown to our industry it really is lockdown.
"While walking through Leamington town centre on Monday I noticed Poundland, Hotel Chocolat, Savers, Boots, Superdrug, opticians, dentists and dog groomers are still open.
"I know it will be said that these are classed as essential but not one single person working in these businesses was wearing the amount of PPE myself and my staff have had to wear to see one client.
"People are coming and going from shops, picking up items and placing them back down only for the next person to pick up the same item.
"I did not see anyone sanitizing these items, wiping down door handles or wiping down card machines like we have done for the last three months.
"I even witnessed cash being handed over and staff not sanitizing their hands afterwards.
"This is so infuriating as independent hair and beauty salons will soon be destitute by the impact of these unequal measures, not because we are not busy but because of the restrictions that have been put in place by the Government and the disproportionate allocation of financial support by the Government.
"The cost of the PPE, the number of hours we are losing by having to allow an extra 15 minute after each client to be able to sanitize chairs, wash towels and gowns, sanitize card machines, door handles, all tools used and the changing of mask and aprons.
"A report by the Office for National statistics recently stated that whilst Hairdressers are “regularly being close to others” they are not in fact “directly exposed to diseases” as the report continues to state this is due to ‘arm’s length’ that is taken by this profession.
"I believe this is further due to the enormous actions taken by myself and my staff to ensure a clean work environment and protect against Covid-19."