Tampon Tax – plugging the bleed in funding of women’s services provision?

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2016 National Women's Conference
9 December 2015

On 25th November 2015, the Chancellor of the exchequer delivered his autumn statement to the House of Commons. Within this statement he raised the issue of the 5% VAT on sanitary protection being diverted to fund women’s services. It became clear that Will Quince MP had made the suggestion for this.

Conference acknowledges the ‘creative’ efforts made by Colchester MP Will Quince, in his proposal that the funds raised from the tax on sanitary products in the UK should be used to fund women’s services. This can only be described as making the best of a bad situation, as the last spending review confirmed that the women of the UK would remain saddled with 5% VAT on the luxury product that is sanitary protection.

In an environment where we are seeing funding for valuable services for women cut on a regular basis, we would not be so foolish as to not welcome any additional funding source. However, this proposal should only be seen as a temporary compromise for it is as much a compromise as it is compromising to women’s service provision.

We are concerned about the wider message that this proposal sends out; that women should somehow be responsible for the funding of their own support services; it encourages the view that issues such as rape and domestic violence are ‘women’s issues’. We are also concerned that this proposal may in fact lead to the further acceptance of there being VAT on sanitary products if it is somehow seen as securing these much needed services.

Conference we are absolutely clear that these vital support services should not be dependent on whether or not women menstruate, funding for them should be both secure and a priority.

Conference calls on the national women’s committee to work with the NEC and Labour Link to engage with and lobby MPs and Ministers to remind them that Menstruation is neither a choice nor a luxury and that the government should be working to;

1)remove VAT on sanitary products,

2)not make women indirectly responsible for the funding of services that relate to the impact of male violence, and

3)prioritise securely funded women’s services provision