Scottish Lib Dems join fight with the SNP to abolish ‘tampon tax’


Motion passed at party conference in Dunfermline

THE Scottish Liberal Democrats backed a motion this weekend at the party conference in favour of allowing sanitary towels and tampons to be reclassified as “essential goods” that should be exempt from paying VAT.

Currently, the policy is that feminine hygiene products are classified as “non-essential, luxury goods” and are taxed at five per cent.

After the motion, Siobian Mathers from Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “The motion we passed today is an important measure to end discrimination against women and the everyday fact of life.

“This is something practical that we would like to see the EU and the UK Government take maximum measures to try and make women’s lives easier on an everyday basis.”

The SNP plans to make an amendment to the UK Government Finance Bill when it reaches report stage. If passed, sanitary products will be exempt from having to pay VAT.

The UK Government would have to need consent from the European Union before it can abolish the tax.

Former UK Government minister Jo Swinson told CommonSpace: “The changes to VAT are negotiated at EU level, so it is not the gift of the UK Government.

“I would be surprised if the clerks in the House of Commons would be able to make changes to the amendment without consent from the EU.”

Speaking ahead of the Finance Bill debate on Monday, SNP MP Alison Thewliss said: “Sanitary protection products are not an optional luxury, they are an essential product for over half the population. It is absurd that while men’s razors, children’s nappies and even products like Jaffa Cakes, exotic meats and edible cake decorations are free from VAT women are still having to pay additional costs on what is already an expensive yet vital product.

“The SNP amendment to the Finance Bill will secure progress towards a VAT exemption for sanitary products and it will provide the government with an opportunity to explain why they have made so little progress on this issue over so many years.”

Mathers added that the Lib Dems would support the amendment that the SNP has put forward and that it is “important that we work cross party on matters affecting particular sectors of society”.

Picture courtesy of Kayla Sawyer