MP pledges to take ‘tampon tax’ campaign to the top

Tampon tax campaign.
Tampon tax campaign.
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After the controversial ‘tampon tax’ vote MP David Gauke has pledge to campaign at the highest level to get VAT wiped from sanitary products.

The majority of the female population were outraged last week after MPs - men and women - voted against a Finance Bill amendment, which would have forced a negotiation with the EU for a reduction in the current five percent rate.

Among the ‘no’ voters were South West Herts MP Mr Gauke and Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning.

Mr Penning told the Gazette he voted against the bill because Mr Gauke, who is also finance secretary to the Treasury, has promised to take the campaign further.

“I have been campaigning on this and working on this for over 20 years,” said Mr Penning.

“The reason I voted the way I did is because the minister has gone further in what he said than what the amendment did. When the minister gave his response he said he would negotiate.”

Currently the VAT on sanitary products at five percent is the lowest it can be under EU rules.

Mr Gauke said: “The average rate for other member states is 17 per cent.

“The French had a vote in their assembly and voted against a proposal to reduce it from 20 per cent to 5.5 per cent.”

But the minister believes the right to axe tax on sanitary products is worth fighting for and has pledged to take the case to the European Commission and other EU member states to call for a review.

“There is clearly a cross party consensus that government should have the ability to set a zero rate for sanitary products,” he said.

“I’m not pretending this is something we can easily achieve but I do think it is worth us trying.

“I think times have moved on and this is clearly an essential product.

“I can understand the sense of unfairness. It’s not so much about the actual financial cost but I think there is a principle here that there is a tax that falls unfairly on women.”

The European Commission will be reviewing VAT across the board in 2016 but Mr Gauke warned there will be no quick solution to the ‘tampon tax’.

“This isn’t a simple formality,” he said. “We will need to persuade every other member state to support this change and that can take some time.”