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Health and beauty spas in “grey area” when seeking Coronavirus support

The Welsh Government must do more to protect spa and salon businesses from the effects of Coronavirus, according to a business owner in Caerphilly.

Sarah Bruton owns Captiva Spa & Lounge, which will be closed for Valentine’s Day this weekend. This means she will be missing out on one of her most profitable times of year.

Valentine’s Day is the third most profitable period for her business, behind Christmas and Mother’s Day.

For Sarah, this is only one event of many that have been cancelled: “Everything we’d be doing this time of year, like couple’s massages and Valentines packages, have just had to stop.

“That was the case for some of our Christmas offerings as well, so Valentine’s Day is just the latest in a long line of big holidays cancelled that we are able to build our business around.”

However, while the loss of Valentine’s trade is concerning, more worrying is the lack of support for businesses in the spa and salon sectors.

“The heartbreak really comes not from a loss of Valentine’s Day business but from the fact that we don’t have access the support that we desperately need having lost all of the busiest times of our year,” she said. 

We don’t have access the support that we desperately need having lost all of the busiest times of our year

Sarah Bruton, Captiva Spa & Lounge

Sarah said that businesses in the hair and beauty sector, as well as some spas that have been forced to close, don’t qualify for the same funding available to businesses like gyms and pubs. 

“We’re not receiving the same parity of support that other businesses are able to get so the nature of this sector, the hair and beauty sector has been excluded by definition from the latest round of the ERF funding,” she said.

What is ERF funding? 

ERF stands for Economic Resilience Fund, a support package made available by the Welsh Government. It allows some businesses to get up to £5,000 to help them keep going.

The latest round of this funding, announced in January, was available for non-essential retailers and businesses in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors. However, according to Sarah, spas fall into a “grey area” where – depending on which services the individual spas are able to offer – some can claim under leisure, while others can’t. 

She says that if she was allowed to get this funding, it would make a big difference: “It would give us security.

“It would allow us to add new services and invest in our staff. It would give us all some confidence that the industry is valued, that there will be support going forward and that we’ve all got a future after this.  

“We’ve worked so hard over the last year to put ourselves in a strong position and really it feels like the Government is working against us a bit at the moment,” she said. 

Government response

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Between December 2020 and March 2021, a salon with a rateable value of less than £12,000 will have been entitled to receive £6,000 of Welsh Government grant support towards its operating costs. Businesses that pay non-domestic rates and have already received a payment since the firebreak in October do not need to take action and will receive support via their local authority. Businesses which have not registered with their local authority should take action now to ensure they receive the financial support they are entitled to.

“Welsh Government financial assistance is in addition to UK Government schemes which provide help with income including the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme.

“In total the Welsh Government has ensured more than £1.7bn has reached the bank accounts of businesses since the beginning of the pandemic. We know this remains an incredibly difficult time for businesses and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”