The cost of sanitary products for British women is set to fall after leading supermarkets promised to pass on savings they make from the scrapping of the tampon tax (currently a 5% VAT charge) to customers. It’s been a long time coming (whoever made the case for tampons being a luxury in the first place?) but we’re celebrating this news at PP HQ.
In a letter to Paula Sherriff, the Labour MP who spearheaded the campaign to scrap the ‘tampon tax’, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons confirmed prices will be reduced in line with the abolition of the tax. Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Boots also said they are committed to lowering prices.
Timeline of the tax
A 17.5% VAT charge has been applied to sanitary products since 1973, when the UK joined the Common Market. In 2000, after lobbying by Labour MP Dawn Primarolo, this was reduced to 5%.
It wasn’t scrapped entirely at the time because the government did not have the power to do so; application of VAT in the UK is governed by EU Law. In March 2016, Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed he would take steps to abolish the charge, after Labour MP Paula Sherriff’s campaign.
At the time, she said, “I genuinely feel really passionate about this. It’s a tax on women. The fact that tampons are taxed at 5% suggests they’re a luxury item. I can’t think of anything less luxurious.” Brussels has since announced a range of options which will allow a zero rate of tax on sanitary products, a major victory for Paula and her supporters.
Just how much do we spend on tampons and pads – and how much will you really save? It turns out it’s a lot. Research released last year showed that women spend just under £500 a year on products for their period.
That’s equivalent to a holiday, your rent for a month or a 222 Starbucks cappuccinos. All of which we’d rather spend our money on. Over a lifetime, it’s around £18,450 – of which almost £1,000 goes straight to the tax man. Now, it’ll be back in your pocket.
Paula Sherriff is happy with yesterday’s news saying, “I’m delighted to have reached this agreement with Britain’s largest retailers that they will guarantee to pass on the tampon tax cut at the point of sale. It would be completely unacceptable if this measure just led to big businesses boosting their bottom line at the expense of women buying what are essential goods.” **Major fangirling**
While we are super excited by these developments, we are looking forward to a time when this becomes a reality. We'll keep you updated with any further developments and what this means for you.
If you haven’t signed up to Pink Parcel yet, it’s time to start enjoying your period! Subscribe here and you’ll have everything you need (and want) sent directly to your door.