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Businesswoman Tells Sky News Of Pandemic Pressures

Published on: 3 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 5 Mar, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Sky News came to “affluent” Guildford last week (Sunday, February 28) to highlight the pressures facing shops and businesses in the run up to the chancellor’s budget on March 3 (see Sophie Ridge On Sunday).

Gemma Raif, owner of The Hair and Beauty Bar in North Street, was interviewed by Sophie Ridge for the Sophie Ridge On Sunday show.

Gemma Raif of The Hair and Beauty Bar in North Street being interviewed on Sophie Ridge On Sunday.

Ms Raif had been nominated for the interview by the Federation of Small Businesses. She said she had been active with the organisation on pressuring the government for action to help businesses such as hers.

Sky News was in Guildford for about three hours for the six-minutes news piece. Ms Raif said she had not been given much notice but she had enjoyed the experience even though it was “nerve wracking”.

She explained her 13 staff were all furloughed and the income from the two beauty rooms she had rented out to beauticians had stopped.

She said:”My landlord is still demanding full rent and I haven’t been paying it. Technically, I am in £40,000 debt for rent.

“I have paid rent for 20 years and never defaulted. I had business interruption insurance but that has not paid anything. I had no debt before the pandemic closed the shops. I will be working for five years just to pay off the debt.”

Gemma Raif wants the chancellor to reduce VAT to 5% for the hair and beauty industry as he had done for hospitality and keep business rates at zero “for the foreseeable future”. She also pleaded with him to intervene with private landlords and insurers.

The Hair and Beauty Bar in North Street.

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