In a groundbreaking move, the UK government is set to abolish the tax on period pants, marking a significant step towards a more sustainable future. The Chancellor is expected to announce in the Autumn Statement that these absorbent, washable, and reusable undergarments will be “zero-rated” and no longer subject to Value Added Tax (VAT) starting from January. This decision follows an intensive campaign led by retailers, women’s groups, and environmentalists.
The popularity of period pants has been on the rise as consumers seek alternatives to single-use products. However, their cost has been a significant barrier for many. By removing VAT, the government aims to make period pants more accessible and affordable for everyone. This move aligns with previous efforts to end the so-called “tampon tax” in 2021, which exempted sanitary pads and menstrual cups from VAT.
VAT, currently set at 20% for most products, will no longer burden period pants, as these garments will be recognized as an essential and sustainable solution for menstrual hygiene. It is important to note that this decision does not apply to all period products, but is a significant step towards recognizing and supporting more environmentally-friendly options.
Retailers, including major brands like Marks & Spencer and Wuka, have been outspoken advocates for the removal of VAT on period pants. In a collective letter addressed to the Treasury, these retailers pledged to pass on any tax cuts directly to customers, ensuring that the cost savings are immediately felt by those wanting to make the switch. The letter emphasized the positive impact of period pants on reducing plastic pollution and waste, as well as the potential long-term financial benefits for individuals.
The estimated cost of VAT exemption for period pants is as low as 55p per year for an average household in the UK – equivalent to the price of a pint of milk. This figure highlights the minimal impact of the tax cut on the economy, while providing significant support to those who menstruate.
The decision to remove VAT on period pants has garnered support from various political figures. Former sports minister Tracey Crouch asserted that no one should be taxed based on their choice of period product. SNP home affairs spokesperson Alison Thewliss reasoned that if the logic of removing VAT on sanitary products has already been acknowledged, it is only fair to extend that exemption to period pants, considering their importance to the well-being of many women and girls.
Over the past two decades, period underwear has gained popularity and can now be found in major high street retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Primark, and Next. These innovative undergarments feature a highly absorbent lining and can be used alongside tampons or used as an alternative to sanitary pads. By being washable and reusable, period pants offer a sustainable solution that reduces waste compared to traditional disposable products.
The awaited confirmation of this tax exemption in the Autumn Statement is an exciting step forward for sustainable menstrual hygiene options. It underlines the government’s commitment to promoting environmentally-friendly practices while acknowledging the importance of accessibility and affordability for all.
Q: What are period pants?
A: Period pants are absorbent, washable, and reusable undergarments that provide an alternative to traditional disposable menstrual products.
Q: Why are retailers and environmentalists advocating for the removal of tax on period pants?
A: Retailers and environmentalists believe that by removing VAT on period pants, these sustainable products will become more affordable, encouraging more people to make the switch and reducing plastic pollution and waste in the long run.
Q: Will the removal of VAT on period pants apply to all period products?
A: No, the removal of VAT currently pertains specifically to period pants, acknowledging their unique status as an essential and environmentally-friendly menstrual hygiene option.
Q: How will the removal of VAT on period pants affect the cost for consumers?
A: The estimated cost of VAT exemption for period pants is as low as 55p per year for an average household in the UK, making this sustainable option more accessible and affordable for consumers.