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Monday, March 4, 2024

Period pants to get cheaper as tax on product abolished

Period pants to get cheaper as tax on product abolished

Women can buy period pants for £2 cheaper than current prices after the government abolished a tax on the product.

As of Monday, retailers including supermarkets Marks & Spencer and Tesco, as well as clothing shop Primark, have promised to pass on the savings (worth 16%) to customers.

It follows a campaign by retailers, women’s groups and environmentalists. Other period products such as sanitary pads and tampons have been exempt since 2021.

Women will save on average up to £2 on period pants, the government said. The pledge to scrap the tax was made by the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, in the autumn statement.

In August, retailers including Marks & Spencer and the brand Wuka were among about 50 signatories of a letter to the Treasury which urged the government to remove VAT on period pants.

In the letter, they pledged to pass on any tax cut straight to customers “so they feel the benefit of the cost-saving immediately”.

Period pants are increasingly popular, and are now on sale from major high street brands, offering a sustainable alternative to single-use products such as tampons. The pants contain a highly absorbent lining and can be used in place of sanitary pads. They can be washed and reused, just like ordinary pants. Campaigners said that removing taxation would make them more affordable.

Period pants were not covered in the 2021 law change in which the “tampon tax” on period products was removed. This is because they were classed as “garments” and therefore considered exempt.

The letter from retailers in August said that period pants “have the power to reduce plastic pollution and waste”, and could save people money in the long term. They said: “One of the main barriers to switching to period pants is the cost.”

The financial secretary to the Treasury, Nigel Huddleston, said the change was a “victory for women” and for those who had “helped raise awareness” of the importance of this product.

VAT is paid at 20% on most products, except for some items such as books children’s clothing and most food.

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Victoria McKenzie-Gould, the corporate affairs director at Marks & Spencer, said the company was “thrilled” with the decision.

“Nearly 25% of women cite cost as a barrier to using period pants so we know the new legislation that comes into effect from today will make a big difference to women’s budgets across the UK.”

The savings for women are subject to the VAT cut being passed on, with retailers pledging to play their part.

Laura Coryton, a tampon tax campaigner and founder of social enterprise Sex Ed Matters, said: “Ending the tax on period underwear will make a huge difference, particularly given skyrocketing levels of period poverty across the UK.”

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