For those of you who are new to the union you may have noticed a lot of posters promoting the fact that we at the QMU sell tampons and sanitary products tax free. Here’s the low-down of how the QMU became one of the first establishments in Scotland to offer tampons and other sanitary products tax free.
Last year, qmunicate’s very own Lauren Cummings reported on the decision to end the ‘Tampon Tax’ at the University of East Anglia with an urge that the University of Glasgow do the same. After raising the issue with the QMU president last year the QMU quickly took the lead from UEA.
Sanitary products are now available tax free in our union shop located on the ground floor opposite Qudos. You can pick up a pack of tampons for as little as 60p, perfect for when that student loan is being stretched to its limit after a roaring Freshers’ Week.
So why is this such a big deal? For the past couple of years, #EndTheTamponTax has been a big campaign in the UK and after petitions reaching hundreds of thousands of signatures were produced, the issue was brought to the attention of the UK Government. Nicola Sturgeon supported the campaign during her talk at the University of Glasgow earlier this year and even UKIP agree the policy is outdated. Yikes.
Since 1973, women have been paying tax on sanitary products within the UK as the Government deemed them ‘non-essential’ products. Items sold in the EU that are considered “essential” are exempt from VAT, a sales tax that currently stands at 20%. In 2001, the tax was petitioned to drop from the ‘reduced’ tax rate of 17.5% by Labour MP Dawn Primarolo.
Today, sanitary products are charged at the further reduced rate of 5% which may seem more reasonable on the surface. However, if you don’t think this is a lot to complain about, products such as Jaffa Cakes, sugar flowers and marshmallows are excluded from this tax which classes taxable items as ‘luxury items’. Jaffa Cakes are pretty important, sure. But they make for very poor sanitary products.
Other issues that protestors often raise is that condoms are provided in the UK by the National Health Service, yet sanitary products are not and are taxed on top of this.
Many other Universities and their unions are following suit and ditching the Tampon Tax, including Exeter and Sussex. This means that the #EndTheTamponTax campaign continues to gain movement across the UK and will hopefully end this tax which many suggest is institutionalised sexism.
[Chiara Bullen – @Bullieob]