Marks & Spencer has teamed up with period pants brand Wuka to call on the government to remove the 20 percent VAT on period pants by asking Victoria Atkins, the financial secretary to the treasury to reclassify the reusable knickers as a period product in this year’s autumn statement.
Currently, period products such as pads, tampons and menstrual cups are exempt from VAT in the UK, however, consumers pay a 20 percent tax on period pants, a reusable period product, as they are classified as garments.
To highlight the issue, the retailer has teamed up with Wuka to launch the ‘Say Pants to the Tax’ campaign and petition, which includes a public letter with more than 50 signatories so far, including 35 MPs and peers and charity's Wellbeing of Women and Bloody Good Period to raise the issue with the government.
In the letter, they say: “We were delighted when the Government made the decision to abolish the ‘Tampon Tax’ in 2021. This meant that disposable period products stopped incurring VAT. This was a big step in the right direction but - on behalf of our customers and women across the UK – there is more to do.
“Period pants have the power to reduce plastic pollution and waste and they also have the potential to save people money in the long term as they can be worn, washed, and worn again, month after month. But, to make this a reality, we must start by making this brilliant alternative to disposable period products more accessible to more people. We believe this starts by removing the tax and reclassifying period pants as a period product.”
M&S and Wuka launch ‘Say Pants to the Tax’ campaign to reclassify period pants in the UK
M&S and Wuka state that their customers alone have paid more than 3 million pounds in VAT on period pants since 2020, and if the VAT is removed, period pants retailers and brands who have signed the letter are pledging to pass this straight on to their customers, so they feel the benefit of the cost-saving immediately.
Victoria McKenzie-Gould, corporate affairs director at M&S, said in a statement: “The Government made a brilliant start by removing VAT from disposable period products, but we need them to finish the job and level the playing field so that whatever period product someone chooses to use, it is VAT free.
“Nearly 25 percent of women cite cost as a barrier to using period pants - if they were classified as they should be – as a period product – the Government can make this brilliant alternative to disposable products, a more cost-effective option for UK consumers.”
Laura Charles, lingerie director at M&S, added: “As the UK’s biggest knicker retailer, we want to do something about the VAT that our customers pay on period pants. Over the past few years, our customers have paid over 1.5 million pounds in tax but if this tax is removed, we can pass the entirety of the cost saving onto our customers.
“It’s great to have the support of so many brilliant individuals and organisations and we welcome all businesses to sign-our letter and help us say Pants to the Tax.”
M&S launched its period pants three years ago and now sells more than 6,000 packs each week.