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Open letter criticises Tampon Tax spending


open letter, Mim Davies MP, Penny Mordaunt, Tampon Tax, pay back, womens organisations, petitionCash raised from this unpopular levy should only to be donated to organisations dedicated to women.

In 2015, the money collected from VAT on period products, known as the Tampon Tax, was pledged to go to women’s charities.

But numerous women’s charities have since reported that they have not been able to submit bids either this year or in 2018 due to the restrictions of the bidding criteria: application criteria in 2018 and 2019 required a minimum bid of £1million over 2 years, and state the need for’ cross-regional partnership’ bids.

So most of the money has instead been awarded to larger charities that are not focused on women’s health and support and local women’s charities are now missing out on money which was meant to be for them.

In an open letter to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, more than 100 women, including academics and representatives of women’s charities, have urged the government to ringfence cash raised from the unpopular levy to be donated only to organisations dedicated to women.

Addressed to Mims Davies MP, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, and copied to Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, the letter runs:

Dear Minister,

As charities involved in delivering specialist services for women and girls and individuals supporting and advocating on behalf of women and girls experiencing varied and multiple disadvantage including violence against women and girls, poor health, disability, and from across the range of protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010 we have serious concerns about the process and outcomes of the “Tampon Tax Fund” in 2017, 2018 and 2019

Specialist women’s charities face a severe funding crisis which impacts directly on the availability of services for the most disadvantaged women facing complex challenges. These charities are often grassroots, locally embedded and relatively small in size compared to larger generic charities that do not have a core focus or specialism in services for women. Due to the fund criteria, there are a very small number of women’s charities in a position to bid alone.

Tampon Tax Fund application criteria in 2018 and 2019 required a minimum bid of £1million over 2 years, and stated the need for cross-regional partnership bids. This has ruled out a large number of women’s charities and has ensured that the ability to lead and submit bids goes to larger national generic charities. Numerous women’s charities have reported that they have not been able to submit bids either this year or in 2018 due to the restrictions of the bidding criteria.

We are concerned that even when women’s charities have led bids, or applied in consortia type arrangements; it is larger generic organisations that have been granted the funding; with the exception this year of Southall Black Sisters. We are very concerned that the success of some of these bids will cause further damage to the fragile women’s charity sector by drawing investment to generic providers. Alongside this we are also witnessing similar processes within other public bodies which are further exacerbating the fragility of our women’s charity sector.

The process and allocation of the fund does not demonstrate, either, an understanding of the need or the value of women’s charities in working with women and girls, nor does it provide an opportunity to adopt a strategic approach to sustaining life-saving services for women and girls. In fact it achieves the opposite.

We are acutely aware that the establishment of this fund was explicitly designed for women’s charities- In November 2015 George Osborne said it was for “women’s health and support charities”

It is therefore gravely disappointing to us that a fund established specifically for women’s charities is failing quite significantly to deliver on that promise.

We urge you to address this as a matter of urgency by ringfencing this fund for women’s charities. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how we can support a refreshed process which provides investment for the fourth emergency services in our country, which women’s charities are.

We are publishing this letter and we will publish ministerial responses.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Vivienne Hayes MBE, CEO, Women’s Resource Centre


Adrienne Darragh, Chief Executive, Hibiscus Initiatives;

Ali Harris, Chief Executive, Equally Ours;

Alison Gordon, Executive Director, Sisters For Change;

Amrit Wilson, Feminist writer and former Chair of Imkaan;

Angela Everson, Chief Executive, Women Centre Ltd;

Angela Oxberry, CEO, WHIST;

Anna Herrmann, Joint Artistic Director, Clean Break;

Anne Bonner, Chief Executive, Riverside;

Annette Lawson, Chairc The Judith Trust;

Baljit Banga, Director, LBWP;

Beatrix Campbell OBE, Author and Activist;

Becky Rogerson, Interim Director, WWIN;

Caroline Hattersley, Director, women@thewell;

Caroline Murphy, Director of Operations, nia;

Clare Hyde, Director, The Foundation for Families;

Cleo Matthews , West Sussex County Council-Registration Services;

Cris McCurley, Family Partner, Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors;

Darlene Corry, Consultant;

Davina James-Hanman, Independent VAWG Consultant;

Dawn Redshaw, CEO Salford Independent Domestic Abuse Support Services;

Deborah Coles, Director, INQUEST;

Deniz Ugur, Director, IMECE Women’s Centre;

Diana Nammi, Executive Director, Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation;

Dion Spence, Membership & Sustainability Manager, Imkaan;

Dionne Nelson, Deputy CEO, WRC;

Donna Carty, Vice-Chair, Women and Girl’s Network;

Donna Covey CBE, Chief Executive, AVA (Against Violence and Abuse);

Dorett Jones, Head of Training, Development and Member Sustainability, Imkaan;

Dr Davina Lloyd, Backto60;

Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, Assistant Prof Sociology, Durham University;

Dr Louise Harvey-Golding, Consultant;

Dr Maki Kimura, International Liaison Officer, WILPF UK;

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director, UK Women’s Budget Group;

Elaine Slater, Chief Executive Officer, Tyneside Women’s Health;

Eleri Butler, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid;

Emily Simon, Founder, The Women’s Foundation;

Emma Jones, Managing Director, Include;

Emma Ritch, Executive Director, Engender;

Estelle du Boulay, Director, Rights of Women;

Evelyn Fraser, Development Manager, Scottish Women’s Convention;

Fiaza Manzoor, Manager, Trafford Rape Crisis;

Gemma Fox, Rheolwr Gyfarwyddwr / Managing Director, North Wales Women’s Centre Ltd;

Gill Herd, Senior Manager – Partnerships, Solace;

Gurpreet Virdee, Co-Director, Women and Girls Network;

Heather McKenzie, NEU Executive;

Heidi Riedel, CEO Woman’s Trust;

Helen Cylwik, Freelance consultant to the voluntary sector;

Helen Voce, Chief Executive Officer, Nottingham Women’s Centre;

Helene Harrigan WRC trustee;

Hilary McCollum, Author, Activist;

Ila Patel, Director, Asha Projects;

Jackie Jones, Wales Assembly of Women;

Janet Veitch OBE Consultant;

Jemima Olchawski, CEO, Agenda;

Jo Todd, CEO, Respect;

Jocelyn Watson, Author and campaigner;

Judith Green, Woman’s Place UK;

Julie Budge, My Sisters Place;

June Pilgrim-Ndure, Project Manager, Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network;

Karen Ingala Smith, CEO, nia;

Kate Aldous, Head of Strategic Development, CLINKS;

Kate Paradine, Chief Executive, Women in Prison;

Kathleen Moss, Accountant and Community Volunteer;

Kevin Courtney, Joint GS, NEU;

Kim Donahue, Consultant, WRC Trustee;

Kim Knappett, Joint President, NEU;

Kiri Tunks, Joint President, NEU;

Kunle Olulode, Director, Voice4Change England;

Lee Egglestone, Rape Crisis England and Wales;

Lucila Granada, Director, Latin American Women’s Rights Service;

Lynda Dearlove rsm, CEO Women@the Well;

Marai Larasi, Executive Director of Imkaan;

Marcelina Stengert (Counsellor) Mama Health and Poverty Partnership Greater Manchester;

Maggie Baxter, Chair, Womankind Worldwide;

Mary Bousted, Joint GS, NEU;

Naomi Delap, Director, Birth Companions;

Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Executive Director, FORWARD;

Naomi Dickson, Chief Executive, Jewish Women’s Aid;

Nazmin Akthar, Chair of Muslim Women’s Network UK;

Nicki Norman, Director of Services, Women’s Aid;

Niki Scordi, Chief Executive, Advance;

Omar Khan Director Runnymede Trust;

Philipa Harvey, NEU Executive;

Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters;

Professor Aisha K. Gill, Ph.D. CBE, Professor of Criminology, University of Roehampton;

Professor Catherine Donovan, Professor of Sociology, Durham University;

Professor Jill Marshall LLB (Hons) MA PhD, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales;

Rahni Kaur Binjie, Campaigner, Activist;

Ranjit Kaur, Feminist Campaigner;

Ros Bragg, Director, Maternity Action;

Rupa Sarkar, Chair of WRC;

Sally Field, Chair Woman’s Trust;

Sam Smethers, CEO, Fawcett Society;

Samantha Rennie, Executive Director, Rosa, the UK Fund for Women and Girls;

Sarah Green, Co-Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition;

Sarbjit Ganger, Director, Asian Women’s Resource Centre;

Sawsan Salim, KMEWO, Director;

Shade Alonge-Obasuyi (Counsellor/Psychotherapist) Mama Health and Poverty Partnership;

Shahida Choudhry, Women’s Rights Activist;

Sheila Coates, SERICC;

Sumanta Roy, Head of Research, Evaluation and Development, Imkaan;

Susie McDonald, CEO, Tender;

Verna Chung, Head of Operations, Rosa Fund;

Vicky Knight, President UCU;

Vicky Marsh, On behalf of the Safety4Sisters Management group;

Wendy Davis, Director, Rooms of our Own;

Yasmin Rehman, Campaigner;

Yenny Tovar- Aude, Director, Latin American Women’s Aid;

Yvonne Traynor, CEO, RASASC;

Zaiba Qureshi, Chief Executive, Housing for Women;

Zarin Hainsworth, NAWO, Chair.

There is also a petition for you to sign and share (please) calling for the government to honour its promise and pay back the tampon tax to women’s charities.

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