M&S and Wuka take 'Say Pants to the Tax' campaign to the streets of London
Today, M&S and Wuka took ‘Say Pants to the Tax’ – a campaign to level the playing field on period products – to the streets of London to pressure the government to make period pants VAT-free.
Less than 48 hours before this year’s Autumn Statement - when the Chancellor could introduce new legislation to make period pants exempt from VAT - three vans bearing the slogan “It’s a bum deal, Jeremy. Axe the Tax on period knickers” were sent in convoy around Westminster.
The campaign calls for the removal of the 20% VAT that applies to period pants. In 2021, the Government removed the ‘Tampon Tax’ and products such as tampons, pads and menstrual cups stopped incurring VAT. However, under current VAT rules, period pants are classified as garments and are therefore still subject to a tax rate of 20%.
Based on M&S estimates that the Treasury will receive approximately £2.8 million in VAT from period pants this year, the VAT exemption equates to just 0.0017% of total Treasury VAT receipts. For comparison, if the Treasury was a UK household with an average household income of £32,300 after tax, this would be the equivalent of 55 pence per year.
Victoria McKenzie-Gould, Corporate Affairs Director at M&S, commented: “We’re just 48 hours away from the Autumn Statement and we want the Chancellor to know that the tax on period pants is a bum deal for women everywhere, and we won’t throw in the towel on our campaign.
"We hope he received our message today, and we urge him to do the right thing on Wednesday and level the playing field on period products by making period pants VAT-free. It’s a tiny percentage of the Government’s budget but a change that will make a big difference to women’s budgets across the country.”
The campaign has the backing of the UK’s top five knicker retailers, M&S, Primark, George at Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. It also has the support of charities including Freedom4Girls, Bloody Good Period, A Plastic Planet as well as MPs.
Alison Thewliss MP said: “The Chancellor has already accepted the logic of removing VAT on sanitary products, so it’s only right that he extends that VAT cut to period pants. They are essential for many women and girls and have the bonus of being better for the environment than disposable products. I’m proud to stand with the campaign to Say Pants to the Tax!”
Tracey Crouch CBE MP added: “I strongly believe that nobody should be taxed no matter what period product they choose so when the Government decided to abolish the tampon tax it was a proud moment for women, politicians, and campaigners across the country. What we’re asking of the Chancellor at this year's Autumn Statement is to simply finish the job that was started by his government in 2021."
In August, M&S jumped the gun by covering the VAT costs on period underwear as it awaits the government's response to the petition. This means a three-pack of period knickers that retailed at £20 are now £16.