HOUGHTON and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson popped into a city hair and beauty salon to see how the business had fared during the Covid pandemic.

Earlier this year, Susan Hall, owner of Reds Hair and Beauty in East Herrington, wrote to Ms Phillipson asking for support for the national Save our Salons campaign. The campaign asked the government to cut salons’ VAT bills to five per cent – in line with help the country’s hospitality industry received.

Susan, who is also a board member of The National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF), explained: “The Covid pandemic has had a devastating effect on our industry and although most salons have now reopened, the repercussions are very much still being felt.

“Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, and what we wanted and expected from the Government was a fair deal similar to what the hospitality sector received. Sadly, we didn’t get the tax reduction or any other sector-specific support.

“As part of the Save our Salons campaign I contacted Bridget and asked for her support. She wrote to the Government sharing our concerns about the future of the hair and beauty industry and asking what assessment had been made of a reduction in VAT.

“She was keen to follow-up that exchange and see for herself what effects Covid has had on our business and the sector more widely. I told her that on ongoing problem is recruiting staff – the pandemic has prompted an exodus from the industry.”

Ms Phillipson, who is Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Reds is a fantastic local business and it’s great to see them open again. It’s now more important than ever that we support local businesses that form such a vital part of our community.

“Like many sectors, the beauty industry has been hit extremely hard by the Covid pandemic and I was interested to hear Susan talking about the ongoing challenge of attracting staff into the sector.”

Susan added: “We’re grateful to Bridget for her time and interest. It is great to be fully open again – we’ve missed our clients and I think they’ve missed us.”

* Reds have been fully open since July and are offering a new range of services including podiatry and microblading and brow care. For more information go to www.redshairandbeauty.com, the salon’s Facebook page or call 0191 5110288