A piece in yesterday’s Telegraph. This was always about gesture politics, and giving money (£47 million since 2015) to feminist organizations such as Women’s Aid.
Scrapping the tax will save the average woman almost £40 over the 30-40 years in which most women menstruate. Let’s take the mid-point, 35 years. Women currently spend less than 10p per month on the VAT for their sanitary products – and this leads to “period poverty”? Laughable. What next – “make-up poverty”?
The controversial ‘tampon tax’ has been abolished, as Britain breaks free from EU rules.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak committed to ending the unpopular levy on tampons and sanitary pads in March’s Budget and as of Friday, VAT on the products has been removed.
Brussels laws prevented the Treasury from reducing the VAT rate on the items below 5 per cent.
Official estimates forecast that scrapping the tax on pads and tampons will save the average woman almost £40 over her lifetime.
The ‘tampon tax’ raised £15 million-a-year for the Treasury, which has donated the money raised through the levy to women’s charities and organisations in recent years.
The Tampon Tax Fund was established in 2015, and has so far allocated £47 million for charities working with vulnerable women and girls.
Mr Sunak said: “I’m proud that we are today delivering on our promise to scrap the tampon tax. Sanitary products are essential so it’s right that we do not charge VAT.
“We have already rolled out free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals, and this commitment takes us another step closer to making them available and affordable for all women.”
Speaking during Wednesday’s Brexit debate, Sir Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Liaison Select Committee, raised the issue and said: “I feel we’re having a debate about a glass being half-full or a glass being half-empty.
“But, I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that we will be able to do things like abolish the tampon tax, which so many honourable ladies opposite railed against the Government about, only because we’re leaving the EU.”
The Treasury previously estimated that removing VAT from the products will reduce the price of a pack of 20 tampons by 7p and 12 pads by 5p.
Felicia Willow, chief executive of women’s rights charity the Fawcett Society, said: “We warmly welcome the scrapping of VAT on all sanitary products from January 1 2021 and congratulate the Government on taking this positive step.
“It’s been a long road to reach this point, but at last, the sexist tax that saw sanitary products classed as non-essential, luxury items can be consigned to the history books.”
Critics have long criticised the tax for contributing to ‘period poverty’, the result of which was some women could not afford to access tampons and sanitary pads.
One study from Plan International found one in 10 girls have been unable to afford sanitary products in the UK and one in seven have “struggled” to do so.
It also revealed one in seven girls have had to borrow from a friend due to financial problems and one in seven have had to improvise.
In November, Scotland became the first country to allow free and universal access to menstrual products in public facilities.
The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favour of the Period Products Bill, ushering in a legal duty on local authorities to ensure that free items such as tampons and sanitary pads are available to “anyone who needs them”.
The Bill’s accompanying financial memorandum estimates the policy could cost roughly £8.7 million a year by 2022 depending on the number of women who will take advantage of the free products.
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