There have been plenty of news stories recently regarding the payment of VAT on sanitary products in the UK. Quite rightly, many women are totally against this idea. After all, they are a necessary product to buy for many women, and so they are far from being a luxury.
However, thanks to EU law, there is no way the Government in this country can abolish the so-called tampon tax, even though it would clearly like to. This became clear in this week’s Budget, where George Osborne stated the Government wanted the EU to change the current law. The Government currently puts a 5% VAT rate on these products, and it can go no lower as this is the smallest amount that is allowed according to EU law.
So it has decided it will respond in the best way it can to the 300,000 people who signed a petition calling for the tax on such products to be abolished. It raises around £15 million every year from the VAT charged on sanitary products. This amount will now be donated to women’s charities each year. These charities cover domestic abuse and women’s health matters.
Mr Osborne announced four charities that will benefit from the first £5 million to be collected in this way. These are the Eve Appeal, Women’s Aid, SafeLives and the Haven. He also invited other charities and “good causes” to bid for a slice of the remaining £10 million to be collected each year.
While many would like to see the tax abolished completely on sanitary products, it is good to see the Government is doing what it can to ensure the money collected goes to a good cause. However not all women are happy about the announcement. Some commented that only women would be contributing to the payments going to charity each year. Instead of this being the case, some commented that all of society should be supporting such things.
However this is a tricky situation. Surely it is better to make the most of the money collected than to simply have it going into Government coffers. This is clearly a controversial decision. However, donating the money to charity is a good idea in theory. If the Government announced it was donating the money to charities that worked in favour of both men and women, how would this be received?
The point is that the VAT collected can go to good causes instead of being used on things that are perhaps more controversial. Since the Government cannot completely remove the VAT – as much as it would like to – there is a very real chance that it could be there for a long time to come. Surely the most important thing then is to make sure the money goes to a good cause?