Say Bye to the Tampon Tax and Bring on 2021
After years of avid campaigning and protesting against the so-called ‘tampon tax’, the 1st of January 2021 marks the date where the UK will officially scrap VAT on sanitary products.
And it’s about time. As we step into the final few months of the year, we have finally reached a point in understanding that periods are not optional. And certainly not considered a luxury. Spotting, bloating and cramps are involuntary bodily functions that cannot be hindered or held back. Ask anyone and if we could fully function as women without the need for periods, we would.
Back in March, the UK Government announced in their weekly budget that the UK will no longer be bound to the EU law regarding sanitary tax; which states that sanitary products are classified as ‘luxury’ items, hence subject to tax. The tax cut means it will reduce the cost of a regular pack of 20 tampons by 7p, and a 12 pack by 5p; making this a 5% reduction per purchase. It may seem like a small cutback, but this change will ultimately save the average woman roughly £40 in their lifetime.
There’s no doubt to say that abolishing this tax is a big step in the right direction, but period poverty is still real and an issue that the abolishment of tampon tax won't magic away. For those on a low income, the average rate of a box of tampons is still £3.41. Yep, mother nature is no cheap affair.
In a survey of 1,000 women and girls in 2017, charity Plan International generated the shocking statistic that 1 in 10 were unavailable to afford monthly sanitary products and 12% having to improvise with their sanitary hygiene methods. Yes, a 5% deduction may seem small, but it will make a difference; financially and in the movement towards gender equality.
Successful political changes have been made, but looking at the societal impact, there still needs to be improvements. Women facing discrimination and belittlement due to having a period is still a significant stigma that needs to be taken seriously. In a study carried out in 2019, more than one in ten women experienced negative comments about their period at work. I mean, who hasn’t been asked “Is it that time of the month” as soon as you have a moody moment? Or told, “It’s not a real illness.”
Laura Coryton- who has led the campaign against tampon tax since 2014- said in an interview with Dazed: “We are one step closer to ending period stigma, poverty and ensuring that mainstream politics is more diverse.” Ending the period tax is a big step in a very important journey to removing barriers that prevent girls and women from making their mark in the world, due to the impact of period poverty.
It may be a movement that's classed as a ‘Victory’ and a profound recognition of how far we’ve come; however, however this is only the beginning of ending period poverty in the UK once and for all.
Here's just a selection of Insta brands to follow who are helping to lead the movement where sanitary products are available to all
Words by Clare Stephenson
Graphics by Frances Scott