'We need to be heard and treated fairly' – dog groomers demand after not receiving COVID grant
- Credit: Supplied by Amy Walker
Like many businesses up and down Welwyn Hatfield, dog grooming is effectively shut to the public under lockdown and dependant on business grants – which have been difficult to obtain.
GoldWalk Grooming and Wellness Salon in Hatfield Garden Village, along with others in the borough, have now backed a nationwide campaign through The Groomers Kennel to be treated fairly.
Amy Walker of the Hatfield business, who knows that Paws of Welwyn, Precious Little Paws, Lyd's Posh Dogs, The Empawrium and Mutterly Gorgeous are in the same boat, explained the "massive effect" the closure of her business to most customers has had.
"To remain within the guidelines we can only legitimately groom for welfare reasons, in DEFRA's terms, this includes dogs who are
extremely matted or a veterinary referral for skin issues.
"This is effectively less than four per cent of custom and in turn, our incomes have been affected massively. We cannot make ends meet, with rent, utilities, insurance to name but a few fixed overheads for shops like my own.
"The council's argument is that we can remain open to groom these welfare cases, they won't accept we are not earning any money barely and cannot remain open with only four per cent of our customers. We should be classified as closed because to normal clients, we are. "
But this is not the case for all boroughs and districts, Amy adds, as Broxbourne, Thurrock and Stoke on Trent are all accepting that dog groomers are entitled to these grants as they're effectively shut but Welwyn Hatfield has not.
"They may now receive payment from the closed businesses grants. Effectively protecting and shielding these businesses giving them survival means against COVID. "
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WHBC has said in response: "We know how difficult it has been for so many businesses impacted by COVID-19. To date we have helped over 1,900 businesses, paying out £18 million.
"According to the government guidance we must follow, dog grooming businesses have not been forced to close, so we are seeking advice from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who have developed the grant scheme, regarding their entitlement to a business grant.
"While some local authorities may have paid grants to these businesses, there are many that have not. However, as we continue to do everything we can to support local businesses through the pandemic, we are also investigating, the alternative option of the discretionary grant scheme."
Amy Walker is an award-winning dog groomer of 18 years, specialising in doodles (poodle/bichon crossbreed types) and recently placed first in her category at a global dog grooming competition. She owns GoldWalk Grooming & Wellness Salon in Hatfield Garden Village.