Hair and beauty businesses in Havering have been encouraged to apply for grants after an open letter accused the borough of excluding the sector.

Havering Council has extended the deadline for applications for additional restrictions grants (ARG), which were brought in to support businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, until February 21.

Earlier this week, the British Beauty Council and National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF) sent an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak claiming over 60 local authorities, including Havering, were excluding hair and beauty businesses from claiming the support.

It claimed they were “continuing to receive reports that these local authorities are either rejecting or not prioritising claims from these businesses”.

The joint letter was also sent on behalf of UK Spa Association, British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology, the Hair and Barber Council and the Federation of Holistic Therapists.

The groups claim the hair and beauty sector contributed almost £30billion to the UK economy annually and employs 590,500 workers.

According to an NHBF snap poll, more than 84 per cent of hair and beauty salons and barbershops experienced reduced business between Christmas and New Year, when restrictions were put in place to address the Omicron variant.

Richard Lambert, NHBF chief executive, said: “Whilst we appreciate that each local authority is entitled to create their own criteria about which businesses receive ARG assistance and that funding will not meet the needs of all businesses affected, it does appear that a significant number are actively excluding hair and beauty salons and barbershops in their area.”

Cllr Dilip Patel, Havering’s deputy cabinet member for business recovery, said on February 15 that the hair and beauty sector was eligible for the grant.

He added: “While there is only a small amount of funding available, our aim is to continue to help all of our local businesses as much as we can as we have done throughout the pandemic.

“We greatly value the services hair and beauty businesses provide to residents and this can be seen with the council recognising them in our upcoming Small Business Awards – Best Beauty or Service Business category.”