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VAT on period pants scrapped

Women will save up to £2 on period pants on average as the government scraps VAT on the underwear.

  • Women to save up to £2 on period pants as government scraps VAT today.
  • Retailers, including M&S, Primark and Tesco, have committed to pass on the savings, worth 16%.
  • Move follows scrapping of tampon tax in 2021, removing VAT from sanitary products, following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

From today, 1 January 2024, women will save up to £2 on period pants on average - up to 16% - as the government scraps VAT on the underwear.

The pledge to scrap the tax was made by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt at the Autumn Statement 2023 and follows the end of the tampon tax in January 2021.

Around 80 MPs, charities and retailers called on the government to scrap the VAT in August 2023.

With Marks & Spencer spearheading the campaign, other retailers including Primark and Tesco have committed to pass the tax cut straight to the consumer.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Nigel Huddleston, said:

This is a victory for women across the UK and for the campaigners who’ve helped raise awareness of the growing importance of period pants.

It’s only right that women and girls can find more affordable options for what has become an essential and environmentally friendly product.

Since reforming the ‘tampon tax’, the market for period underwear has expanded and they are now a mainstream choice for many women. The scrapping of the current VAT will ensure that period underwear is treated the same as traditional period products.

Having left the European Union, the UK is no longer legally bound by EU laws which saw sanitary products subject to five different rates of VAT between 1973 and 2021.

The move comes after the ‘Say Pants to the Tax’ campaign, led by retailers such as Marks & Spencer, women’s groups and environmentalists, called to scrap the tax.

Victoria McKenzie-Gould, Corporate Affairs Director at Marks & Spencer, said:

Paying tax on period pants was a bum deal for women everywhere so we’re thrilled that the Treasury has done the right thing by axing the tax and levelling the playing field on period products for good.

Nearly 25% of women cite cost as a barrier to using period pants so we know the new legislation that comes into effect from today will make a big difference to women’s budgets across the UK.

A big thank you to WUKA, the tens of thousands of individuals, politicians, brand and retailers, who threw their weight behind our campaign - Say Pants to the Tax – and of course a big thank you to the Chancellor and HM Treasury team who made the change we were campaigning for a reality.

Women with sensory issues who find conventional period products difficult to use will also benefit from period pants becoming more affordable.

The savings for women are subject to the VAT cut being passed on, with the army of retailers behind the campaign pledging themselves to play their part to pass on the 20% VAT cut.

Laura Coryton, tampon tax campaigner and founder of social enterprise Sex Ed Matters, said:

Ending the tax on period underwear will make a huge difference, particularly given skyrocketing levels of period poverty across the UK. It will also help to tackle the stigma associated with periods, which stops at least 10% of girls going to school every month.

Now, it is important for retailers to pass savings on to consumers, not only in relation to period underwear, but all period products.

Further information

  • Women’s Sanitary Products have been subject to five different tax rates since 1973. The UK first introduced VAT in 1973 with a standard rate of 10% applied to sanitary products. In 1974, standard VAT was cut to 8%, before rising to 15% in 1979 and 17.5% in 1991. The government moved sanitary products to a reduced rate of 5% in January 2001 following a campaign and debates in Parliament.
  • Read the 50 retailers’ letter to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury from August 2023.
Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-treasury

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vat-on-period-pants-scrapped

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