As the UK Government announces an extension to the furlough scheme, an Edinburgh hairdresser has welcomed the “bittersweet” vital support it offers businesses like his.
Dean Jones, who owns a salon on the city’s Elm Row, said the announcement of lockdown in March last year sent him and his staff into “panic stations”.
He told STV News: “But thankfully having the furlough scheme has allowed you to feel a little bit… better about the business and you can plan better.
“It has helped us out a lot, you know. It was kind of a lifeline really.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which first started in March 2020, will now run until September.
It means businesses and individuals will continue to be supported through the next stage of lockdown with furlough payments remaining at 80% of the employees’ salary.
Mr Jones said: “Going by the first lockdown, that was tough and we managed to slowly sort of like build ourselves back up, so hopefully we don’t get another lockdown.
“I would like to see the furlough continue just to kind of take out the rough part until you start building your business back up again, for us anyway.”
“Like many businesses just now you’re trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel.”Dean Jones, hairdresser and salon owner
The CJRS has protected around 11 million jobs throughout the UK since the start of the pandemic.
Although it has been vital for business, it has been hard on workers, Mr Jones said.
“Like many businesses just now you’re trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Staff wise, you know, you try and keep their morale up because boredom does set in place.”
“It’s that whole sort of like mindfulness, and you know keeping the spirits up for the team as well as for yourself really.
“It’s kind of like a bittersweet, you don’t want the furlough going on forever but it does help.”
As the scheme is extended, employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards their staff’s furlough payments.
“You’re looking after everybody, you’re still trying to make everybody feel and look good.”Dean Jones, hairdresser and salon owner
Scotland will return to a levels system in the final week of April, like the system in place before Christmas last year.
Areas that are currently under level four restrictions are expected to move into level three with the reopening of close contact services like hairdressers.
Mr Jones told STV News: “I’m just looking forward to, like, doing hair again.
“You know it’s what we trained hard. We want to pick everything back up and most importantly see the clients again.
“I’m sure they miss us as much as we miss them.”
Closure of Dean Jones Hairdressing and restrictions have also “knocked into” the education of trainees at the salon, but support has continued.
Mr Jones said: “We’ve not been seeing them physically, I do keep in touch with Zoom. I’ve sent them all dolls heads, anything they need I’m here, and they know just to call me.”
Even with the end of lockdown in sight, hairdressers will need to reopen with strict control measures.
He said: “You want to try and look after everybody in one go, but it’s impossible because you’ve got to do the social distancing, you’ve got to adhere by the government guidelines.
“And you know we do it and we do it to the best that we can. It’s a slow process but you know, you’re doing your job.
“You’re looking after everybody, you’re still trying to make everybody feel and look good.”