Women’s charities were promised the extra funding… but it’s not being delivered. Now you can join a new campaign demanding our ‘blood money’ back
Words by Lizzy Dening
The tampon tax that deems sanitary items a ‘luxury’ has always been a bone of contention for anyone who’s ever baulked at the price of them – and the only consolation was that it went to fund women’s causes. But it turns out the Government haven’t been entirely transparent about this – prompting the Women’s Resource Centre to launch a campaign to get the tampon tax repaid.
Cast your mind back to 2015: Uptown Funk was everywhere; Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris were ultimate #relationshipgoals; and the Government was in hot water over the VAT on sanitary products, known as the tampon tax. As a compromise (seeing as towels and tampons are clearly delightful luxury items rather than health essentials) then-chancellor George Osborne promised that the tax would be used to fund women’s health and support charities. Not perfect, but at least some good would come from our monthly fleecing… or so we thought.
In fact, it turns out that the money – estimated to total £700m over the years it’s been in place – has been a bit of a free-for-all, with only one of 10 beneficiaries in the last year being a women’s charity (Southall Black Sisters). Shockingly, one beneficiary in 2017 included the anti-abortion charity Life, which was awarded £250,000 from the fund. Now the Women’s Resource Centre (an organisation designed to champion and support women’s charities and causes) is calling for this debt to women to be repaid.
‘In a context of women continuing to bear the brunt of austerity policies and suffering discrimination because of the gender pay gap it is unacceptable that taxes specific to women’s monthly cycles and promised to our health and support charities are going elsewhere,’ says WRC’s CEO Vivienne Hayes, MBE. ‘Our blood money should be channelled back into those life-saving women’s charities who are struggling to keep their doors open when all evidence shows an increase in demand.’ One such cause is, of course, the nation’s Rape Crisis centres, which, as of August this year, faced a 9 per cent rise in demand, with waiting lists standing at around 6,000 individuals *due to insufficient funding.
After writing to the Government to express concern, and receiving a less-than-satisfactory response, the WRC decided a national campaign was needed. Today they have launched a Crowdfunder to raise £9,000 to create a campaign toolkit, including template letters for our local MPs, as well as putting on a roadshow of events to support women’s organisations. They’re asking the Government to repay £500m of the tax to women’s health and support charities, as well as amending its criteria for the Tampon Tax Fund in future.
Demand for women’s services has increased by 85% at the same time as funding has fallen by 50%, according to WRC.
‘When we support women, we support children, families, communities and society,’ says Hayes. ‘That’s why we are asking all women across the country to join us in our campaign to pay back the tampon tax money to the 20,000 women’s charities across the country.’