Lockdown’s financial impact on women is being “overlooked”, more than 60 female business leaders and MPs have warned as they call for more support in the upcoming Budget.
In a letter published in The Daily Telegraph, leading names including Dame Helena Morrissey, Dame Jenni Murray and former home secretary Amber Rudd have joined the British Beauty Council in urging the Government to commit to safeguarding the retail and beauty industries.
The letter, also signed by Trinny Woodall, Mary Portas, Cherie Blair QC, Tamara Gillan and Baroness Bertin points to evidence that the clock is being turned back on Britain’s working women, and urges the Government to halt the reversal by “properly assessing the impact the pandemic has had on women’s lives in the UK”.
The group is calling for a temporary cut to VAT for hair and beauty salons down to 5 per cent [from 20 per cent], in line with the VAT relief offered to the hospitality sector.
They are also asking the Government to continue the business rates holiday to the end of the pandemic, and to lower it to 50 per cent thereafter.
The letter adds: “These actions would show the Government’s commitment to backing business women in Britain, and that the female workforce is considered as a vital part of the UK’s recovery plan.”
Rishi Sunak is due to announce a £5 billion grant for high street shops and pubs in the Budget on Wednesday, with individual businesses eligible to apply for up to £18,000 each.
Vivienne King, Chair of the Shopkeepers’ Campaign, welcomed the fund but said it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough to solving the problems faced by the retail sector.
“While government grants are always welcome, up to 18,000 per business is a drop in the ocean for what these sectors need,” said King. “We need long term reform of the business rates system, which is killing retail.”
Research by the Resolution Foundation has found that women are more likely than men to be working in sectors that have shut down during the pandemic.
While Institute for Fiscal Studies research has shown that working mothers are almost 50 per cent more likely than fathers to have either lost their job or quit during the pandemic.
Due to school closures, one in three working mothers has lost work to cope with extra unpaid duties at home, according to the Fawcett Society.
SIR – We are concerned that the fiscal impact of the Government’s lockdown measures on women is being overlooked.
The virus has taken its toll on a great many people in Britain, but a significant number of female employers, entrepreneurs and employees are being affected – and the damage could take decades to repair.
More women than men work in sectors that have shut down. Mothers are almost 50 per cent more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs or been forced to leave because school closures have created a childcare crisis.
Sectors largely staffed by women – such as retail and hospitality – have suffered massive job losses. Already almost 5,000 beauty salons have been forced to close.
The British beauty industry is worth £28 billion to Britain’s GDP – double the value of car manufacturing – yet there has been no sector-specific financial support, despite one in 60 jobs being within its businesses, many of which were started by women.
The lockdowns have also exposed and accelerated the vulnerability of our high streets. Online sales have boomed, while retailers are being unfairly disadvantaged by having to pay high business rates. The collapse of Debenhams and Arcadia alone has seen 25,000 women lose their jobs. As more retail moves online, shops – which have mainly female staff – are being replaced by warehouses and jobs in deliveries, which are taken by men.
We believe the lockdown is turning back the clock on Britain’s working women – who are not only losing their jobs at an alarming rate, but have also borne the brunt of the domestic load and home-schooling. We call on the Government to take action to halt this reversal by properly assessing the impact the pandemic has had on women’s lives in the UK.
In Wednesday’s Budget, we are asking for a temporary cut to the VAT for hair and beauty salons, from 20 to 5 per cent, in line with the VAT relief offered to the hospitality sector. We are also asking the Government to continue the business rates holiday to the end of the pandemic, and to lower them to 50 per cent thereafter.
These actions would show the Government’s commitment to backing business women in Britain, and that the female workforce is considered a vital part of the UK’s recovery plan.
Caroline Nokes MP (Con), Chair, House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee
Jane Shepherdson, Chair of My Wardrobe HQ, Director of London Fashion Fund
Millie Kendall, CEO, British Beauty Council
Amber Rudd, Former Women and Equalities Minister
Dame Jenni Murray, Former Woman’s Hour presenter
Tamara Gillan, Founder, WealthiHer Network
Jane Boardman, Chairman, British Beauty Council
Jude Kelly, Founder, The Wow Foundation
Holly Tucker, Co-founder of Notonthehighstreet; founder of Holly & Co; UK Ambassador to Creative Small Businesses
Deborah Williams. Founder, The Women’s Association
Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair, Time’s Up UK
Brenda Trenowden, Former Global Chair, The 30% Club
Ann Cairns, Global Chair, The 30% Club
Ann Francke, Chief Executive, The Chartered Management Institute
Justine Roberts, Founder, Mumsnet
Felicia Willow, CEO, The Fawcett Society
Justine Simons, Deputy London Mayor
Laura Bates.Founder, Everyday Sexism Project
Mika Simmons, Founder, The Lady Garden Foundation
Trinny Woodall, Founder and CEO, Trinny London
Dr Helen Pankhurst
Joeli Brearley, Founder and CEO, Pregnant Then Screwed
Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Founder, Women in Leadership
Pinky Lilani, Founder, Women of the Future
Dr Jackie Mulligan, Founder and CEO, Shopappy.com
Fiona McIntosh, Co-founder, Blow Ltd
Madeleine Raynel, Managing Director, Treatwell
Julianne Miles, Co-founder and CEO, Women Returners
Vanessa Vallely, Founder, We Are the City
Sam Smethers, Former CEO, The Fawcett Society
Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder, A Plastic Planet
Dr Julie Hoegh, ClientEarth
Sharmadean Reid, Founder, Beautystack
Helena Grzesk, COO, British Beauty Council
Alexia Inge, CEO, Cult Beauty
Anna Teal, CEO, Aromatherapy Associates
Marcia Kilgore, Founder, Beauty Pie
Vasiliki Petrou, CEO, Unilever Prestige
Marian Newman, Founder, The Federation of Nail Professionals
Vanita Parti, Founder, Blink Brow Bar
Michelle de Klerk, Founder, The Women’s Chapter Network
Julia Elliott Brown,Founder, Enter the Arena
Emma Sayle, CEO, Killing Kittens and Sistr Ltd
Martha Silcott, Founder, Fab Little Bag
Stephanie Betts, Director, Josephine Home
Amanda Smit, Owner, Delish and Yummy
Nancy Zeffman and Eileen Willet, Co-Founders, Cucumber Clothing Limited
Gemma Scott, Co-director, SB surveyors
Victoria Chalmers, Founder and CEO, Black & White Comms
Julie Hawkins, Founder and Director, Single Mums Business Network
Venetia Archer, Founder, Ruuby
Debbie Trumper, Founder, Debbie Trumper Consultancy
Lara Morgan, CEO and Founder, Functionality Fragrances