By Marie-Claire Mills

It is very clear to us humans that most women have periods. We have our time of the month and we have to fork out a lot of money to keep up personal hygiene and save embarrassment of, for want of a better term, an open flow. So why are sanitary products therefore ‘expensive’? Value Added Tax (VAT).

Previously, the VAT rate on sanitary products has been 8%, 10%, 15% and was, up until 2016, 17.5%. Fortunately for us women, David Cameron fought our corner to the European Union back in 2016 and managed to get a reduction on the ‘tampon tax’ to our current rate in the UK of 5% on sanitary products. Cameron also said that by 2018 the UK will have a zero rate for sanitary products, but here we are 2 years later still paying the 5% tax due to complications caused by our friend Brexit.

Sanitary products have been thought of as a ‘luxury’ item to the EU and last year Prime Minister, Theresa May, allocated almost £12million pound of the earnings from the tax to support women’s charities. I’m yet to hear another woman tell me having a period is a luxury, but we can only hope that soon this will be changed. 

On a lighter note, supermarkets, Waitrose, Tesco and Co-Op, are covering the tax for us with Co-Op’s director saying they want to do right for their customers, one of the steps towards fighting period poverty. Not using sanitary products can cause serious health risks that can affect future life. 

Periods are natural and sanitary products are a necessity to most women. Even after the governments ‘donation’ we are yet to see the tampon tax be scrapped. Will 2019 be the year?