Llanelli MP and Shadow Wales Minister Nia Griffith is calling for the compulsory state registration of hairdressers.
Most of us make the assumption when we go to the hairdressers, that we are being treated by people who are suitably qualified. I was quite shocked therefore to find out that in the UK you do not need to have any qualifications to practise as a hairdresser. Of course the majority of hairdressers have appropriate qualifications, work to a high standard and take great care of their customers. However at the moment there is nothing to protect the consumer from the unscrupulous or the incompetent. And when you think that hairdressing involves using powerful chemicals, as well as sharp implements and styling equipment which can inflict burns, that is frightening and simply not acceptable in this day and age. When things do go wrong, it can be very distressing for the person concerned, and ultimately, if medical treatment is needed, it is likely to be the NHS, namely the taxpayer, who picks up the bill.
That’s why I am now calling for compulsory state registration of hairdressers – the current position, which dates from the 1964 Hairdressing (Registration) Act, which created the Hair Council, allows for state registration, but it remains entirely voluntary to belong to the UK register of qualified hairdressers – a status which can be achieved either through qualification or six years practising as a hairdresser. That’s in contrast to Australia, the USA and most other European countries which already have compulsory registration systems. It’s high time for us to sort out compulsory registration here so that consumers can have full confidence in their hairdressers, especially as we are now spending £6 billion a year on hairdressing and the industry employs one per cent of the total adult working population in the UK – some 245,000 people. The Hairdressing Council has calculated that the cost would at most be the current annual registration fee of £42 per hairdresser, with consumers, trading standards and insurance companies able to check registration status easily online.
When I have consulted local salons on the issue, they have also stressed the need for high-quality training, so I was pleased to see in December that my local FE college Coleg Sir Gar has signed up to registering all their lecturers, assessors and qualified learners with the Hairdressing Council.
The purpose of the parliamentary debate I have initiated this week is to raise the profile of the issue, and secure support for change.