Life

Why are hardly any women’s charities being supported by the tampon tax?

Posted by
Moya Crockett
Published
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
Tampons

Over 100 experts have signed an open letter arguing that women’s organisations should benefit from the tampon tax. 

Way back in November 2015, then-chancellor George Osborne announced that the 5% VAT charged on women’s sanitary products – aka the tampon tax – would be used “to fund women’s health and support charities” in the UK. David Cameron’s right-hand man undoubtedly hoped the move would be welcomed by feminist campaigners, but his scheme proved controversial. Many argued that the government should already be properly funding vital women’s services such as domestic abuse refuges, rather than relying on money gathered through a sexist tax on women.

In the years since, the Tampon Tax Fund – as it has been dubbed by the government – has been dogged by controversy. Two years ago, it emerged that £250,000 from the fund was being donated to an anti-abortion charity. And now, more than 100 experts have written an open letter arguing that the fund is failing to support women-only organisations, despite Osborne’s original pledge.

More than 100 women, including academics and representatives of women’s charities, have signed the letter to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. They point out that of the 10 charities chosen to benefit from the Tampon Tax Fund in 2019, only one – Southall Black Sisters – is an organisation focusing specifically on women’s needs. 

The letter was coordinated by the Women’s Resource Centre (WRC), an umbrella group for the struggling women’s charity sector in the UK.

“We are acutely aware that the establishment of this fund was explicitly designed for women’s charities – in November 2015 George Osborne said it was for ‘women’s health and support charities’,” the letter reads.

It continues: “It is therefore gravely disappointing to us that a fund established specifically for women’s charities is failing quite significantly to deliver on that promise. We urge you to address this as a matter of urgency by ringfencing this fund for women’s charities.”

This year’s beneficiaries of the Tampon Tax Fund were announced at the end of March. Crucially, the money is still being donated to charities running important projects for women, even though it has not been allocated to specialist women’s organisations. The homelessness charity Crisis UK, for example, has been given over £1.1m to help homeless women who have survived modern slavery rebuild their lives. The Scottish organisation Sacro received the same amount to provide support and advice to sex workers.

These important projects are obviously deserving of funding and support. However, the signatories of the open letter say they are concerned that “larger generic organisations” are being granted funding over smaller, grassroots charities that dedicate all their work to women’s issues.

You may also like

This is how you can help end tampon tax, once and for all

“It seems that the government thinks that large charities are the best option which is actually completely incorrect,” Vivienne Hayes, chief executive of WRC, told The Guardian.

“Research shows that the women who need support services consistently say they want to go to all women’s organisations who understand their needs and look like them.

“We do things differently and we do things better but the sector is not getting the money, either from central government or local authorities.”

Many of the groups that have received funding thanks to the tampon tax are doing vital work. But the funding available for specialist women’s organisations has been reduced dramatically over the last decade. If we have to pay the tampon tax, it doesn’t seem too much to ask that more than one women’s charity benefits as a result.

Images: Getty Images 

Topics

Share this article

Author

Moya Crockett

Moya is Contributing Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk and Deputy Editor of Stylist Loves, Stylist's daily email newsletter.

Recommended by Moya Crockett

Opinion

“India has scrapped its tampon tax. Why are we still paying it in the UK?”

The world’s ‘most dangerous country for women’ is ending taxes on sanitary products – but in the supposedly enlightened UK, we’re still being forced to pay up.

Posted by
Moya Crockett
Published
Life

When will the tampon tax finally be abolished?

When you can expect to see the back of this ridiculous tax

Posted by
Megan Murray
Published
Long Reads

Why are women diagnosed years later than men for the same diseases?

No, you're not a hypochondriac for being concerned about your body. The gender health gap is real.

Posted by
Jennifer Lipman
Published
Long Reads

What are irregular periods, and why do we get them? A gynaecologist answers our questions

Are you experiencing irregular periods during lockdown?

Posted by
Dr Anita Mitra
Published
Life

These are the shocking stats around period poverty in the UK

The issue is much closer to home than you may have thought

In partnership with
Always