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Tampon tax campaign: victory


'tampon tax', VAT, 'luxury tax' dropped, LabourList, campaign victoryLabour claims victory for common sense as tampon tax abolished.

By Sarah Pine.

Paula Sherriff has claimed a “huge victory” for common sense after Government ministers admitted defeat and said they would not oppose a Labour vote to scrap the tampon tax.

The Dewsbury MP today pushed David Cameron to confirm the tax on sanitary products – the “vagina added tax” as she dubbed it – would be scrapped following pressure from Tory rebels and Labour.

The five per cent tax is levied on all sanitary products because, under EU law, they are classed as luxury goods.

Sherriff’s victory is thought to be the first time an Opposition backbench MP has proposed an amendment to the Budget which has been accepted by ministers.

George Osborne was criticised after the Budget for his failure to reverse an earlier decision in which he said revenues from the tax would go to women’s charities. Campaigners spoke out against the implication that feminine health is considered a luxury and against his underfunding of women’s charities.

Sherriff has called on the government to confirm how the tax will be dropped and to ensure women’s charities do not suffer from the change.

“We now need final clarity on how and when the tax will be dropped… The Chancellor also needs to guarantee secure, long-term funding for the vital women’s charities and services that were receiving the money raised by VAT on sanitary products.

“The test now will be for producers and retailers to pass the savings on to consumers and to work with the Government to make sure the charities which had a funding boost from the tampon tax don’t lose out.

“I am writing to manufacturers and retailers today to ask them to meet with me very soon to reach an agreement on that, and hope for government support.”

Jeremy Corbyn paid tribute to Sherriff this afternoon when responding to Cameron’s statement on the EU, commending her “hard work” in overturning the tax.

Osborne announced the tax would be scrapped after the Prime Minister attended an EU summit in Brussels at the weekend.

In 2000 Gordon Brown reduced the tax from 17.5 per cent to its current rate but did not announce it in parliament – apparently because he was too embarrassed to dwell on the details.

A version of this article appeared on the LabourList website on 21 March 2016. To support campaign-founder Laura Coryton’s on-going global campaign click here.

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