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Approach to reopening beautician businesses marked by a 'gender gap', John McNally warns

Holyrood magazine

Approach to reopening beautician businesses marked by a 'gender gap', John McNally warns

The approach to reopening hairdressers and beauticians as lockdown restrictions are relaxed has been marked by a “gender gap”, Falkirk MP John McNally has warned.

In an interview on Holyrood’s Politically Speaking podcast, McNally, a former barber and currently chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Hairdressing, Barbering and Cosmetology, said the importance of the beauty industry had been “underestimated” and that services typically offered to women had been overlooked in plans to move out of lockdown.

The comments came after the APPG and industry groups wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to “express concern about the hair and beauty sector being forgotten”.

While barbers and hairdressers were allowed to reopen earlier this month, businesses offering waxes and eyebrow treatments faced further restrictions.

Beauticians in England can open without restrictions from 1 August, subject to the correct safety procedures being followed, but industry bodies called for further clarification from the Scottish Government, with the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology warning how “desperately therapists need further information”.

Speaking to Holyrood, McNally said: “When people start talking about the hairdressing industry I don’t think they actually understand the economic impact it has. There’s more than 340,000 employed [in the sector], there’s more than 30,000 businesses and it contributes around £6.6bn to the economy. It’s underestimated.”

He added: “Women not being allowed to take the same steps men are taking is disproportionate. It always has been but in this particular instance I think they should say men and women can go and get the services they require done, and get it back to some sort of equal normality as soon as possible.

“The profession is dominated by females, they want to get back to work, many of them are the main or the only earners in their families, and saying someone else can do this - like barbers - but we can’t leaves a really bad taste in the mouth.”

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