I love the fact that people are enjoying my blog – the other night I had a text message from a friend saying how much she was loving and empathising with it, and then another friend suggested a topic – so here it is PERIODS!
Immediately all of the male readers have closed the browser and scuttled off to the hills!! Do not fear – this is not to be a graphic description of my menstrual cycle – I’ll leave that to people far more eloquent than I – the fabulous Caitlin Moran describing it in her new book ‘How to Build a Girl’ and even more vividly during her recent tour. The tales of mooncup woes whilst at Richard Curtis and Emma Freud’s house, or whilst interviewing the achingly gorgeous Benedict Cumberbatch will remain with me forever.
No – this is about the fact that sanitary products have VAT charged on them as they are deemed ‘non essential items’. Now there are obviously different types of sanitary wear (this is a weak pun based on the fact I have to use the phrase sanitary ware in the day job – meaning toilets, sinks and the like – and I always have a slightly pathetic giggle at it!). Currently I find myself for a couple of days a month requiring the use of a couple of types simultaneously to avoid any Ms Moran type leakages (TMI!!). So much so that I had to summon the 11 year old to get me replacements during my last ‘visit from the painters’. This lead to the 4 year old (trying to emulate her absent big sister) bursting into the toilet yesterday,, when I was innocently having a wee, to ask if I needed her to get me ‘one of those nappy things you wear?’. I am hoping this doesn’t get repeated at school (I haven’t needed Tena Ladies since the 4th child was born!!)
So – back to VAT (the dull accountant in me leaps for joy!). Tampons and sanitary towels are deemed luxury items and therefore we – half the population, including many children – are being taxed just for being female! The VAT is admittedly at a reduced rate of 5% (before 2001 it was the full whack of 17.5% – now 20% – so at least it’s had some reduction) – and in the big scheme of things 5% on an annual spend of maybe £100 is only a medium glass of sauvignon blanc – but it’s the principle of the matter!!
Exotic meats and sugar flowers are all deemed ‘essential’ and therefore there is no vat charged on them!! So perhaps the HMRC list isn’t as extensive as the Waitrose ‘essential’ list – Ardennes pate and parmesan being my particular favourite essentials – but I am fairly certain I could live without consuming exotic meat or sugar flowers every month – but would struggle to cope without tampons or towels (and there is no way I’m ever trying a mooncup)!! There is a petition you can sign if you feel strongly about this too: Stop Taxing Periods. Period.
And this is the article that prompted the blog request: We Need to Talk About Periods
So yes – this Price is usually right, but the price of sanitary products isn’t!!