At the beginning of last week Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion asked two very good questions about future requirements for Period Poverty. Very sadly the response that came from the Government focused exclusively on what has happened in the past. These elements are not bad elements but they do not focus on the questions. The response came from a Minister who is Kemi Badenoch shown in the image here. We clearly need a way of getting the answer to the questions that Caroline asked about the future. So how can that happen?
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she has taken to (a) end period poverty and shame in the UK by 2025 and (b) invest £250,000 on new period poverty programmes; and if she will make a statement. To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will make it her policy to (a) provide further funding to end period poverty in response to rising inflation and (b) actively monitor levels of period poverty, and if she will make a statement.
Kemi Badenoch: Period poverty is an issue the government takes very seriously and has taken a number of steps to address the problem.
Since January 2020, a Department for Education scheme provides free period products in schools and 16-19 education institutions in England. 94% of eligible secondary schools had accessed this scheme by December 2021.
Additionally, from 1 January 2021, the ‘tampon tax’ has been abolished – with a zero rate of VAT applying to all period products. Prior to the abolition of the tax, a Tampon Tax Fund was in place to allocate the funds generated from the VAT on period products, to projects which improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. A final round of £11.25 million in grant funding was awarded in November 2021 to distribute the VAT collected on period products in the final nine months of the 2020/21 financial year, before the tax ended.
As well as these steps, in 2019, NHS England announced that it would offer period products to every hospital patient who needs them and the Home Office changed the law to ensure that all people in custody are provided with health and hygiene products for free, to include period products.
In March 2020, in light of COVID-19, the work of the Period Poverty Taskforce was paused to free up resources to focus on the pandemic.