The government is finally scrapping the tampon tax – but there are still concerns to discuss03/07/2020
After 57 years of having a so-called ‘tampon tax’, the government is set to announce that it is scrapping VAT on period products. But one charity is asking what will now happen to the Tampon Tax Fund?
We have been paying tax on period products – considered ‘luxury goods’ – for over 50 years. Crazy, right? But the 17.5% tampon tax was first introduced in 1973. This was reduced to 5% in 2001, thanks to MP Dawn Primarolo’s tireless campaigning. Since then, campaigners have (rightfully) put pressure of the government to scrap the tax altogether. And now, the chancellor will finally announce the abolition of the tampon tax in next week’s budget.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to declare that the 5% VAT will end at the start of the new year, when the UK leaves the European Union. Under current EU laws, member states cannot reduce the tax rate below this, as sanitary products are classed as luxury items. On average, it is expected that the tax cut will save each woman £40 over her lifetime. This is thanks to a typical 7p reduction on a pack of 20 tampons and a 5p reduction on a pack of 12 pads.
Laura Coryton, who started the Stop Taxing Periods campaign in May 2014, responded to the news, saying: “The end of this tax symbolises the end of a symptom of sexism and the period taboo, which has created period poverty and has stopped girls from going to school. I’m so happy that all 320,000 people who signed my petition, as well as the many generations who have campaigned against this tax, have finally been listened to.”
In the Conservative’s 2015 manifesto, they pledged to redistribute the money collected from VAT on period products to women’s charities. But some women’s organisations have criticised the way this has been handled, as much of the £62m Tampon Tax Fund was allocated to large charities and housing associations without a vested interest in women’s issues (including an anti-abortion group), leaving the specialist organisations struggling with finances.
But one charity is now asking is the fund will be abandoned altogether.
Responding to the news, Vivienne Hayes, chief executive of the Women’s Resource Centre charity, said: “We are over the moon to learn of this news, tampons and sanitary towels were never luxury items and should never have been subject to VAT. Congratulations to all the women who campaigned so long for this ridiculous and unfair tax to be removed.”
Hayes added: “We are concerned that the Tampon Tax Fund will now be abandoned by the government and we hope to see a replacement fund for women’s health and support charities announced in the near future.”
The announcement is expected to be made to parliament at the chancellor’s budget on Wednesday 11 March.
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