Cast your mind back to 2014 and you may well remember a lot of noise in the media about 'tampon tax' - after it became public knowledge that sanitary products, such as pads and tampons, were subject to tax as they were deemed 'non-essential' items (and thus stuck with a 5% VAT charge). In contrast, things like Jaffa Cakes, zoo tickets and lottery tickets were classified as 'essential' by the government... which is pretty wild.
Luckily, thanks to some dedicated campaigners (such as Laura Coryton, who set up a petition calling the whole mess out, that garnered over 350,000 signatures), the government announced plans to axe the tax in 2020 - with the changes coming into full effect in 2021.
It was estimated that with a tax cut of 7p per 20-pack of tampons and 5p per packet of 12 pads, the average consumer of period products would save around £40 over the course of a lifetime. Beyond the money though, it was also far more about the principle of it all... as anyone who has ever had a period will tell you, the experience is definitely not one you'd brand as a 'luxury'.
Now, it's been revealed in a new report that retailers are taking almost 80% of the tax cut benefits for themselves, leaving those who shop with them for pads and tampons feeling little benefit - which stings all the more given the cost of living crisis we're all trying to get through. The Tax Policy Associates' report added that "at most, tampon prices were cut by around 1%, with the remaining 80% of the benefit retained by retailers".
Upon learning the news, Laura Coryton immediately launched a new petition, urging retailers to do the right thing and lower the prices of their period products, so as to reflect the abolition of tampon tax (and thus passing on the benefit to customers).
Speaking to Cosmopolitan UK about her new campaign, Coryton said it's disappointing that such a celebratory moment in time hasn't come to offer any real benefit for period-having people. "The eradication of tampon tax was a significant moment across the country, marking another step forward in what has been a multi-generational campaign to further women's rights," she said. "To learn these savings haven't been passed on to consumers feels like a step backwards - after all, 300,000 people didn't sign my end tampon tax petition to make retailers richer!"
Coryton added that she has already reached out to various top dogs to push for the changes we were all promised to actually be implemented. "We will be immediately starting conversations with various stakeholders to ensure this miscalculation in judgement is addressed and period products are as affordable and accessible everywhere, which is particularly important during the cost of living crisis."
It is believed that the average woman spends £4,800 on period products over the course of a lifetime.
You can sign the petition urging retailers to lower the cost of sanitary products here.
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