Why the Tampon Tax Fund Isn’t a Long-Term Solution

Posted on: 28 March 2018

Yesterday, the Government announced the successful applicants for its latest round of tampon tax funding, ensuring that money raised from the VAT paid on period products is awarded to organisations working to raise the profile of women’s issues.

Whilst this is a great step forward in tackling issues such as period poverty, there is still more to do to make sure this issue stays on the agenda.

What is the tampon tax fund?

The tampon tax fund is generated through money raised by VAT on sanitary products, which the UK is legally obliged to charge as a member of the European Union. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are responsible for allocating this particular fund, establishing it in 2015.

Over 70 charities are already receiving grants through previous rounds of the fund, with a total of £32m of funding having been announced since its beginning in 2015. This latest funding brings the total investment awarded from the Tampon Tax Fund to £47m.

So, what’s the problem?

Although the fund is a useful source of income for the successful organisations who will receive it, one of the stipulations of the fund is that it can’t be used to advocate for causes, and it can’t be used to try and affect a change in Government policy, one of the most effective ways of eradicating period poverty all together.

This is a problem as many of the successful organisations are experts in highlighting women’s issues and have a close understanding of the problems at hand.  For true change to happen around period poverty, we need to be able to speak to decision makers and people who formulate policy, to ensure that everyone’s experiences are being heard and taken into account.

There is also the much larger problem of what happens when the tampon tax fund stops, should the UK deliver on its promise to cut the charges when the UK leaves the EU. Although this is not yet confirmed, with the Government noting ‘a decision will be made on the future of the Fund once this has been achieved’, it would mean that the Government would face the question of whether to continue to make funds available to these organisations, and if not, how to ensure that these issues still remain a priority.

With this in mind, we need to think carefully about how we can make sure women’s issues such as period poverty and education stay on the agenda, and that the conversations don’t stop when the money does.

What can we do?

There is no doubt that there has been a seismic shift in the way periods are talked about in the UK in the last few years. Work from the likes of Bloody Good Period, Laura Coryton and Amika George to name but a few have moved the conversation forward, however the recent report by Plan UK showed just how far we have to go.

The key now is to keep the conversation going and speak up. We want to make sure that nobody needs to keep their period a secret or needs to hide away every month due to a lack of products. We want to ensure that girls know how to spot if something isn’t right, and that they feel confident enough to tell someone if they do, and we want boys and men to know that periods aren’t just ‘a women’s problem’.

We’ve taken it this far already – we can’t let the tampon tax fund fool us into thinking our work here is done.

The  fight isn’t over so let’s keep supporting amazing initiatives like Bloody Good Period, The Red Box and Bloody Good Cause.  You can donate Freda pads in bulk at subsidised rates at www.myfreda.com/donations

 

Image via Alice Skinner of Pink Protest

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