Period pants are about to get a lot more affordable, as the BBC has reported that the government will abolish the tax on them in the upcoming Autumn Statement.
Period products like pads and tampons have been exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) since 2021, but period pants are still currently subject to it because they were classed as “garments”. However, after multiple campaigns by women’s groups, environmental campaigners and even some retailers, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce that period pants will be “zero-rated” from January 2024.
The garments work by absorbing blood, just like a pad, but are washable and reusable, making them very eco-friendly. However, the tax on period pants means that most are not as affordable as it could be, which prevents many people who have periods from being able to purchase them.
For example, a pack of three pairs of period pants from M&S – which have been rated highly by reviewers –cost £20. If VAT is removed from this essential underwear, the price will drop to £16, which comes to about £5.30 per pair.
While a pack of 24 regular-sized pads from Always costs just £3.40, they must be purchased frequently throughout the year, especially for those with a heavy flow, and will end up in landfill. Meanwhile, period pants can be washed and reused multiple times over the course of several years, saving money in the long run.
Read more: Meet the 21 year old activist leading the fight against period poverty.
M&S and WUKA were among 50 retailers that signed a letter to the Treasury earlier this year urging the government to remove VAT on period pants.
The signatories pledged to pass on the tax cut to customers “so they feel the benefit of the cost saving immediately”. They also said in their letter that the garments “have the power to reduce plastic pollution and waste”, adding that “one of the main barriers to switching to period pants is cost”.
In August, Tesco – which was one of the signatories – became the first retailer to “scrap” the cost of VAT on its period pants range by covering it themselves. The supermarket reduced the price across all eight lines of its own-brand F&F period pants.
The expected move to abolish the tax has been praised online, with one person writing on X, formerly Twitter: “Glad to see some common sense prevail at last. Maybe soon everywhere will catch up and provide free period products for all, small steps in the right direction.”
Read more about periods:
Two-thirds of British women have experienced a negative impact at work due to periods (Yahoo Life UK, 6-min read)
Will menstrual leave help women at work — or worsen discrimination? (Yahoo Finance UK, 6-min read)
There are more ways to say you're on your period than you might think – but these are most memorable (Cosmopolitan, 2-min read)