Government urged to remove VAT from period pants

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More than 50 MPs, retailers, and charities have written a letter to the government, urging them to remove the 20% Value Added Tax (VAT) on period pants. Period pants are reusable underwear designed as an alternative to tampons and sanitary towels. Currently, period products such as pads, tampons, and menstrual cups are exempt from VAT, but period pants are classified as garments and therefore subject to the tax. The letter, signed by 35 MPs and peers, as well as chief executives of companies like Marks & Spencer and Ocado, calls on the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Victoria Atkins, to reclassify period pants as period products in the Chancellor’s autumn statement later this year.

The campaign to remove the VAT on period pants has also been supported by Marks & Spencer and the period underwear brand Wuka. M&S has launched the Say Pants to the Tax campaign and promised to pass on 100% of any cost savings to shoppers if the campaign is successful. Currently, a five-pack bundle of period pants at M&S costs £35, but without VAT, it would be £28. Similarly, a pack of three that currently costs £20 would drop to £16. M&S and Wuka estimate that their customers have paid more than £3 million in VAT on period pants.

A recent survey of 268 women aged 18 to 54 found that 23% of respondents cited cost as a reason for not using period pants, and 83% were in favor of dropping VAT from the products. Period pants can be washed and worn again for months, allowing consumers to save money and reduce plastic waste. According to Wuka, one pair of period pants can save 200 single-use plastic disposables from going to landfill.

Victoria McKenzie-Gould, corporate affairs director at M&S, highlighted the need for the government to level the playing field by making all period products VAT free. She emphasized that almost 25% of women cite cost as a barrier to using period pants and that classifying them as period products could make them a more cost-effective option for consumers.

In May, the Treasury announced that it would analyze whether the removal of the “tampon tax” has helped lower prices. The government acknowledged that a tax reduction could contribute to price reductions and stated that they are looking into whether retailers are passing on the zero rating of VAT to women as intended.

In conclusion, there is a call from MPs, retailers, and charities to remove the 20% VAT on period pants and reclassify them as period products. M&S has launched a campaign supporting this cause and promises to pass on any cost savings to shoppers if successful. The campaign aims to make period pants more accessible and cost-effective, ultimately reducing plastic waste and giving consumers more choice in period products.

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