The programme spoke to a London barber, who had been in business for 37 years. The barber complained that, across London, new barber shops and hair salons were springing up on a daily basis, often employing staff who had no qualifications and very little training. These new salons have been offering haircuts at cheaper rates than established barbers, leading to financial difficulties for many older salons who struggle to compete. Mike Taylor said that this is a problem across the UK and argued that this was unfair on qualified and well-trained barbers, whose prices reflect the quality of service offered.
The problem goes beyond that of economic competition, however. There is also the problem of safety to consider. Mike Taylor pointed out that cases of hairdresser’s negligence are rampant across the UK, with established barber shops and hairdressers often having to correct the mistakes made by their less qualified counterparts. Many of these injuries are caused by unqualified individuals in barbershops and hair salons, something which the British Barbers Association wants to rectify.
Although the British Barber’s Association offers its own accreditation scheme, as does the UK Hairdressing Council, these are both currently voluntary schemes, with no mandatory regulation existing for barbers or hairdressers. The BBA argues that the accreditation scheme ‘sorts the wheat from the chaff’ and helps to stamp out any negligent practice. It is also pointed out that licensing is compulsory across the rest of Europe and in the USA. There are, however, currently no current plans to introduce legislation or licensing for barbers.
The BBA is working closely with David Morris, the Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, who used to work as a hairdresser before entering politics. Morris argues that it is ‘dangerous and wrong’ that ‘anybody can just open a hairdresser’s shop and go about cutting and dying people’s hair, using corrosive chemicals without any training or licensing’. Morris tabled a motion in Parliament in 2011 for compulsory registration and licensing to be introduced, a motion that was unfortunately defeated in Parliament.
The renewed focus on hair licensing issues comes at an interesting time, when the government is considering cutting back on health and safety legislation in the workplace. Arguing that ‘red tape’ has gotten out of control, the government hopes to significantly reduce the amount of bureaucracy associated with health and safety practices. This would mean that many small businesses, including barbers and hairdressers, would not face as many stringent inspections as in the past. Mike Taylor argued that their campaign was ‘not about red tape, but about big health and safety issues’. In an environment that uses blades and chemicals on a daily basis, greater regulation should be in place to reduce the chances of a serious accident occurring. Licensing barbers and hairdressers would be one step towards solving the problem of hairdresser’s negligence.
The above report and references can be found at Macks Solicitors website. The report above is not a unique situation in the south of England; it also applies to Leeds as well as the rest of the country. So many qualified barbers are losing business to 'cheap and cheerful' back street barbers. Why? Because unlike with ladies' hairdressers, customers are putting price before qualifications, environment and insurance. Ask any lady whether she would rather pay the going rate to have her hair done by fully qualified, fully insured staff in a nice environment or pay peanuts to someone who just grabbed a pair of scissors one day and instantly called themselves a hairdresser. Who do you think she would rather go to?
Gents, have a bit of respect for our craft and also for yourself. You wouldn't go and buy a £3 shirt form the market to attend a special occasion would you? Yet some people look for the cheapest haircut they can get and then have wear that haircut day in day out.
If you value yourself, look for the qualified barber. The one with his/her qualifications and insurance fully on display. That way you know you are getting the services of someone who is not only experienced in cutting your hair or holding a razor to your throat. They have also been certified as being competent to do so. They have also had to demonstrate that they understand and implement good health and hygiene practices. Given that most barbers have never had to prove their competence, don't you think you owe it to yourself to find a barber that has, even if it does cost you the equivalent of an extra beer or two?