Tesco will cut the price of nearly 100 women’s sanitary products by five percent, in addition to covering the cost of the “tampon tax” itself. This means nearly 100 products like tampons, pads, and liners that are considered “luxuries” under the current tax conditions will be cheaper. The supermarket has opted to pay the controversial charge that applies to sanitary products after revealing that the cost of buying the products was a “real struggle” for many of its customers, according to Michelle McEttrick, Tesco’s group brand director.
“For many of our customers, tampons, panty liners, and sanitary towels are essential products.”
Campaigners have called to cut the charge on sanitary products, arguing that they are essential items and should be exempt from tax. Tesco says it will act immediately rather than wait for VAT, according to the Independent. The Government has reduced the rate to five percent but has argued that EU rules stop it from lowering any further or eliminating the tax entirely.
In 2016, David Cameron persuaded European ministers to change the rules to allow VAT to be removed from sanitary products. However, the change cannot come into effect until at least 2018. The move followed an online petition that attracted 320,088 signatures.
Until the levy is removed, ministers have committed to donating the proceeds of the tax to women’s charities.
The reduction in price will apply to both to Tesco’s own-label products and better-known brands. The company said it had already committed to passing on the saving to customers if, as expected, VAT is scrapped on sanitary products in 2018.
However, Tesco has stated that it will cut prices of the feminine hygiene products immediately.
“However, the cost of buying them every month can add up, and, for many women and girls, it can be a real struggle on top of other essential items… That’s why – as a little help for our customers – we are reducing the cost of these products by 5 per cent.”
Campaigners welcomed the move and called on several other supermarkets to adopt a similar policy, according to Labour MP Paula Sherriff, who has led the campaign against the tampon tax.
“It would have been completely unacceptable if abolishing the tampon tax had just led to big businesses boosting their bottom line at the expense of women buying what are essential goods, which is why we pushed the supermarkets to sign up to a deal to pass the cut on…”
“But this goes a step even further, by reducing prices right now – and I hope the other big retailers now consider doing the same.”
Sherriff added that the government and the EU should make a clear timetable for scrapping VAT on sanitary products.
Back in March, charity Freedom4Girls found that girls in the UK had to resort to using socks because they were unable to afford sanitary products and as a result, were skipping school, according to Metro.
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