Tampon tax: David Cameron announces end to VAT on sanitary products in House of Commons

Prime Minister says European Commission will publish a proposal to 'allow countries to extend the number of zero rates for VAT'

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 21 March 2016 17:22 GMT
David Cameron announces the end of the tampon tax

David Cameron has confirmed the Government will abolish the so-called tampon tax.

In a speech to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: "Britain will be able to have a zero rate for sanitary products, meaning the end of the tampon tax."

He said the European Commission "will publish a proposal in the next few days to allow countries to extend the number of zero rates for VAT".

He said he understood that the EU's rules on taxation were "inflexible" and saw how they "could cause considerable frustration".

Women have had to pay a five per cent levy on sanitary products as they were deemed a 'luxury item'

"We said we'd do something about it and we have done", he added.

As a result, Mr Cameron said the Government would not be opposing the Labour amendment to the Finance Bill - which approves the Budget - when it is voted on in Parliament on Tuesday evening.

It comes after several years of campaigning against the five per cent VAT imposed on all sanitary items - which are deemed a "luxury item".

A petition launched on Change.org against the tax has currently gathered nearly 320,000 signatures.

Campaigners have argued the levy means they were in effect being taxed for the "luxury" of having a period while men's razors are classed as "essential" and not subject to VAT.

In the Autumn Statement in November last year, Chancellor George Osborne tried to soften the blow by saying all tax revenue gathered from the so-called "tampon tax" would be earmarked for women's charities, including domestic abuse refuges.

But critics have accused Mr Osborne of making it a "women's duty" to fund key services such as women's mental health, domestic abuse and rape crisis centres rather than the collective responsibility of society.

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