Your tampon tax is going to fund an anti-abortion charity

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Susan Devaney
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The government has confirmed its plans to donate tampon tax profits to an anti-abortion charity in the UK, despite opposition from women’s groups and politicians.

Details of the grant emerged in April this year after The Observer revealed details that £250,000 from tampon tax (5% rate of VAT that is levied on sanitary products) would go to Life, a charity set up in 1970 that aims to “create a just society which has the utmost respect for all human life from fertilisation” and has a vision of making “abortion a thing of the past”.

Criticising the decision back in April, Labour MP Paula Sheriff said: “It will seem bitterly ironic to many women if we are taxed for our biology, only for the government to hand over that money to organisations that don’t even believe we should have control over our own bodies.”

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy was similarly outraged, tweeting: “This fund was supposed to help women not encourage those organisations who want to control them – completely unacceptable and must be stopped.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has said the grant is for a specific project in London.

A spokeswoman said: “As set out in the grant agreement, Life will not be able to use the tampon tax grant to fund its counselling service, or its ‘Life Matters Education Service’ and is prohibited from spending the money on publicity or promotion.

“The grant is for a specific project in west London to support vulnerable, homeless or at-risk pregnant women who ask for their help. All payments will be made in arrears and on receipt of a detailed monitoring report.”

Youth protest movements have defined the year (Rex Features) 

The Guardian, after conducting a Freedom of Investigation request, has since confirmed that Life will be prohibited from spending the money on publicity, or its highly dubious counselling and education services for pregnant women.

“There is no need for ‘prohibition’ on how the grant is used. We have been very clear with the government in actually specifying that the grant will not be used for counselling or education. As we have stated before, all funds received from the government will be used to support vulnerable women in crisis,” Life told the newspaper.

Instead, the grant given to Life will be for “housing, practical help, counselling, emotional support and life-skills training for young pregnant women who are homeless”. The sum was reportedly one of the largest on the list.

The controversial decision has, unsurprisingly, attracted a great deal of criticism online.

And they were not the only ones to speak out against the government’s plans.

“It is not fitting for what is ultimately a tax on women’s bodies to be spent in this way when there are so many other projects supporting women and their choices which have not benefited,” said the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

In March this year the government announced that 70 organisations would share £12 million from the tampon tax fund – with the aim to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. This came after former chancellor George Osborne failed to honour his pledge to scrap the tampon tax entirely.

Over the summer, meanwhile, Tesco became the first retailer in the UK to pay the tampon tax on behalf of its customers, meaning that customers will be able to buy sanitary products without being slapped with an additional charge. Co-Op, Morrisons and Waitrose have all since done the same.

Images: iStock / Rex Features