The government has refused to drop the VAT on period pants – here’s what to do


Period pants are a luxury, according to the government (Picture: Ella Byworth)

You may remember that a few months ago, we reported that period pant company Wuka was petitioning the government to drop the tax on sustainable menstrual products.

Wuka argued that women should be encouraged to use more sustainable means of managing periods, rather than being penalised for reducing waste.

While VAT is being dropped for tampons and pads from next year, eco products like period pants still have a 20% levy on them, which makes them economically unviable for many people.

So, Wuka urged the UK government to revise its pledge and make resuable period pants 0% VAT.

Unfortunately, HMRC has refused the request, citing that ‘difficulties in policing the scope of the relief create the potential for litigation, erosion of the tax base and a reduction in revenue’. However, it went onto say that period pants ‘may qualify for the zero rate when designed for children under the age of 14 yearsold providing they meet certain maximum sizing limits’.

‘This tax law codifies a body ideal that is exclusionary to any child over a slim waist size of Extra Small, sending out a message to any girl that doesn’t fit this definition that their body shape is not accepted as a child’s body and is excluded,’ explains Wuka’s CEO Ruby.

‘For parents of children above XS and under 14; this is excluding them from affordable menstrual products because of their child’s hip size.’

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s the significance of being 14? In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, someone is a minor if they’re under the age of 18 and a good number of girls don’t even start menstruating until they’re over 14 years old.

And in no part of HMRC’s response was there an acknowledgment of the waste created by tampons and periods.

Over the course of someone’s menstrual life, they can get through up to 15,000 pads and tampons – the vast number of which will end up in landfill as plastic waste. The applicators alone create a tonne of plastic waste, as activist Ella Daish highlighted this week when she created a 6ft tall Giant Tampax Applicator out of 1,200 Tampax applicators collected from beaches and waterways across the UK.

She’s busy petitioning Tampax to make all its products plastic-free – something that would be made a lot more attractive if the government rewarded sustainable initiatives.

So what can you do?

Well, you can continue the fight to get the tax on sustainable, reusable period products dropped by:

  • Signing the Wuka petition
  • Writing to your MP to tell them your view
  • Emailing Wuka to tell them how you’re affected by the government’s response. Does the current 20% tax stop you from buying pants? Would it make buying more of them unfeasible? Email ruby@wuka.co.uk and she’ll responses before the necessary authorities.

Next, take a look at the pads and tampons you use.

If you use an applicator, try buying brands such as UK-based Ohne which makes biodegradable, organic cotton tampons with recyclable cardboard applicators. They’re available on subscription too, which means never having to do a midnight emergency tampon run again.

Dame makes reusable applicators, meaning that you’ve even less waste to think about. Its award-winning design is self-sanitising, works with all tampons and lasts for life. Oh, and Dame does reusable pads and pantyliners, too.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

MORE: Gynaecologist slams ‘vaginal cleansing brush’ that’s used during periods to ‘remove debris’

MORE: Irregular periods linked to increased risk of early death

MORE: Pantone launches new shade of red inspired by periods to tackle menstruation shame





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