Labour’s Holgate ward councillor Kallum Taylor has taken up the case of two concerned owners of a dog grooming business in York, who have urged the Council to give them the support they need to help stop their business from going under.
Claire and Carl Wood, the proprietors of Claire’s K9 Clips on Poppleton Road in Holgate Ward, have found their business judged as not qualifying for “closed” business support, even though covid-19 restrictions have taken away almost all of their ability to trade. This has become a matter of national concern within the dog grooming sector – with different councils taking different views on whether or not dog groomers should receive the Government’s Local Restriction Support Grant (LRSG) for businesses who have had to close as a result of the pandemic.
All Local Authorities are working off guidance on the LRSG put out by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. So far, City of York Council (CYC) is taking the view that dog grooming businesses do not qualify for this support.
However, due to a wide-spread lobbying effort from dog groomers across the country, there are now over ninety councils (including Harrogate, Scarborough, Leeds, and Doncaster) reported as taking a more constructive approach to their dog groomers than York has to its own. These councils have recognised how these types of businesses are all but technically closed, with the only trade they’re legally allowed to undertake being rare cases where a dog’s welfare is threatened. For Mr and Mrs Wood, this amounts to less than ten percent of typical trade.
“Government guidance means we’re only allowed to trade in rare cases where a dog is severely matted, causing pain and discomfort,” Mrs Wood explained. “In reality this renders us, effectively, closed. A growing number of Councils are starting to understand this and pay out the LRSG but City of York Council are not.
“The councils who are doing this are viewing dog groomers in the same way as other non-essential businesses who are closed for walk-in business but still offering minimal trade in restricted cases, through things like a click and collect service. Those councils are proactively backing their local businesses. If City of York don’t do the same we are in danger of going under.”
Cllr Taylor is doing everything he can to try to support the case of Mr and Mrs Wood. He said:
“During the pandemic it is wrong how businesses like this have been ordered to stop the vast majority of their trading without being given the right level of support to tide them over until things get back to, or closer to, normal. It’s even worse that whether or not many of them survive depends heavily on which council area they are lucky or unlucky enough to sit within.
“This is a right dog’s dinner where we’ve got national guidance lacking the necessary nuance to more clearly cover this type of business, while the local Council so far seems to be waiting for everyone else to move first before changing its position.
“I’ve written to the Government to urge it to address the postcode lottery they’ve opened up here. I’m also pushing York’s ruling Lib Dem/Green councillors to back local businesses like Claire and Carl’s in the same way that a growing number of other councils, interpreting the available guidance more positively, are doing for theirs.”