Personal Care Sector Calls for Energy Bill Rebate if COVID Recovery is to Succeed
The leading organisations within personal care (hair, beauty and barbering) have once again come together ahead of this week’s Spring Statement to call for an energy bill rebate, similar to that offered to domestic properties in February, to be made available to commercial properties. This is amid fears from the sector ahead of this week’s Spring Statement amid fears that rising energy costs could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of the sector’s pandemic recovery.
The British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (BABTAC, British Beauty Council (BBCo), Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT), Hair & Barber Council, National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF), Sunbed Association and UK Spa Association have all been responding to concerns by worried salon owners around rising energy bills and the already tenuous positions their businesses are in after two years of lockdowns and operational restrictions affecting income.
After highlighting these concerns to Government, the collective issued a cross sector survey to assess the seriousness of the current situation, with stark feedback received from a massive 1,774 businesses in a 48 hour period.
The findings are:
- 94% said utility bills have increased compared to this time last year
With a third (32%) stating energy bills are their largest overhead and a further 50% stating it is their second greatest overhead – this is a real concern for businesses struggling to rebuild their businesses post pandemic.
- 44% of businesses within personal care reported bill rises of 0-50%, 41% said they had risen by 51-100% and 10% had risen by a staggering 101-200%.
- 57% have attempted to switch supplier but 70% had been unable to renegotiate their current contract with their existing supplier
Of those that had been unsuccessful, almost half said this was because they couldn’t afford the rate offered (46%) Of the 41% that responded ‘other’, the most common reason was being stuck in an existing contract with their energy supplier that they could not get out of.
- 82% have taken other steps to reduce their energy costs – including turning down heating, turning off lights more frequently and turning off sockets at the end of each day*. Unfortunately, some businesses also report closing the salon for a day a week to save costs.
- Almost half of businesses (47%) have reduced other business costs to be able to afford increasing utility bills. Most by reducing stock purchasing, and more concerningly, by reducing staff and personal wage costs.
Lesley Blair, CEO of BABTAC commented “When salons have worked so hard to survive and are now beginning to rebuild it really does feel like one thing after another. We’ve been highlighting growing concerns around post COVID recovery as utility costs continue to spiral for some time and were keen to feedback to Government on the impact this is having on the personal care sector.”
Victoria Brownlie, Chief Policy Officer at the British Beauty Council added “We’re really hoping that, with pressure from the many other sectors as well as personal care, the Chancellor will outline some specific business support around the rise in energy costs, just as the Treasury has done in recent months for domestic households. It is short-sighted, especially in this period of recovery, to think that individual households are the only ones suffering.
Richard Lambert, Chief Executive of the NHBF said “‘We’re at a crunch point. The increase in energy prices on top of growing wider business and staff costs is and will be significant for many businesses. An energy price rebate would at least help spread the costs and allow more time for the sector to recover”.
The Spring Statement will be announced by the Chancellor on 23 March.
Background notes – energy saving measures
The survey also provides an interesting insight into the energy saving and efficiency measures that businesses are introducing including all of the following: switching off lights, turning down heating, having heating on for less time, timer plugs, draft excluders, insulation, double glazing, air drying towels rather than in the dryer, using disposable towels to avoid the energy costs around washing and drying, switch to LED or energy saving bulbs, checking energy efficiency of machines, installing a smart meter. A smaller number of businesses have even installed solar panels.