George Osbourne: Tampon tax is about to be scrapped

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  • Chancellor George Osbourne has said that Britain is on the verge of a deal with Brussels which would allow it to scrap the ‘tampon tax’.

    Mr Osbourne said he expected an announcement ‘in the next few days’ that the UK will be able to end VAT on tampons and other sanitary products.

    ‘I perfectly understand people’s anger at paying the tampon tax,’ he admitted on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

    ‘I said we would get agreement that we could reduce this rate to zero. I think we are on the verge of getting that agreement. I think we are going to get that agreement in the next few days, we hope.’

    The controversial policy, which means that women’s sanitary items are taxed as ‘luxuries’, while other everyday items such as Jaffa Cakes, pitta breads and razors are not, has been the subject of much discussion in recent months.

    MP Stella Creasey spoke out against the tax last October, stating during a debate, ‘Tampons and sanitary towels have always been considered a luxury. That isn’t by accident, that’s by design of an unequal society, in which the concerns of women are not treated as equally as the concerns of men.’

    MORE: Your say: Should we pay tax on tampons?

    A petition against the tax, started by campaigner Laura Croyton, has received a staggering 318,729 signatures.

    ‘After the UK joined the Common Market in 1973, a 17.5% sanitary tax was introduced. It was justified when Parliament classified sanitary products as “non-essential, luxury” items,’ Laura explains on the page.

    ‘After years of hard work, in 2000 Labour MP Dawn Primarolo (who we are working closely with on this campaign) announced that during the following year sanitary tax would be reduced to 5%. She explained the reduction was “about fairness, and doing what we can to lower the cost of a necessity”.

    ‘EU law has prevented sanitary products from escaping tax entirely. Following the Union’s decision to standardise tax across the continent, no separate member state can revise VAT allocations without the EU’s permission. For this reason, hopefully with the backing of Westminster, we hope to convince the European Parliament that this is an important issue worth revising, too.’