A lot being written about Tampon Tax today, after George Osborne’s Autumn Statement announcement that until a change in EU regulations can be achieved, the tax paid on sanitary products will be diverted to so-called women’s charities and healthcare organisations. I haven’t read much of it but I thought this piece from The Debrief was quite a useful addition to the debate:
Tough to feel like it is a bad thing, all things being equal (which, of course, they are not and believe me I know that). Obviously it’s a PR stunt and obviously I agree with all and any sentiments expressing how this cements the idea that things like domestic violence are “women’s issues”. And the idea that medical research into women’s health issues and the care associated with them should be only be paid for by women is messed up to say the least. Reminds me of people who think their tax should be lower because they “never get sick” (spoiler: I’m not a fan of these people).
All that being said, it IS going to take time to get a change in EU regulations that will allow VAT to be abolished on sanitary products altogether (even assuming the government are working as hard on that as they claim) so in the meantime am I actually going to argue that the money shouldn’t go to these charities? Obviously not. And you’ll notice none of the organisations themselves are too miffed about the extra funding.
Although I definitely feel like this sends out a tricky message, I also feel like Women’s Aid’s early intervention project tackling domestic violence just got an extra £2 million so I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
It’s also worth pointing out that no one actually physically counts out the 5% from your £4.99 box of Tampax and puts it in the “women’s charities” pot. Tax doesn’t work like that. In fact that money was already being used in one way or another and actually what this move means is that millions of pounds have been diverted from something else in order to fund this “PR win”. Osborne cited £15 million as the total now being channelled into these charities, but that £15 million has to come from somewhere. Which also sends a tricky message.
Ultimately, this seems to me like an okay idea but it clearly doesn’t address the unfairness and inquality of the Tampon Tax itself or speak to my feelings on the way government funding is prioritised or allocated.
So let’s keep fighting. If we can abolish the Tampon Tax altogether, we can at least deal with one of those.