The Labour Party appear to have backtracked on their pledge to scrap the ‘Tampon Tax’ only days after it was first made, as the European Commission admit that MPs in Westminster would be powerless to scrap the VAT.
With a petition calling for an end to the 5 per cent sales tax levied on the items, which fall outside the ‘essential’ classification, attracting 220,000 signatures, politicians on the campaign trail have been keen to highlight their female-friendly credentials.
After being pinned down to provide an answer by a student at the University of East Anglia, David Cameron accepted that removing sanitary tax will be “very difficult to do”, telling the student he would “have to go away and have a look and come back to you.”
But both Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls committed the party to scrapping the sanitary tax. However, when pushed to provide a statement or even a verbal confirmation of the pledge, the party refused to respond.
The petition, started by Laura Coryton, wants to know why the government taxes sanitary products as luxurious, ‘non-essential’ but items such as crocodile steaks, edible sugar flowers and helicopters are exempt from the sales tax.
‘George Osborne, sanitary products should join your list of essential, tax exempt products, which include “helicopters” (and “aircraft repair and maintenance”), “alcoholic jellies” and “exotic meats including crocodile and kangaroo”. While we can live without flying our own private helicopters, we cannot live without the public participation of those who menstruate, which is dependent upon the accessibility of sanitary products,’ the petition says.
Both men and women have ridiculed the decision that sanitary items are a ‘luxury’
But in a statement from the European Commission, a spokesman admitted that rules on VAT are “decided and agreed on by Member States collectively.”
“The 2006 VAT Directive provides for Member States to apply reduced rates to a substantial list of goods and services,” a spokesman told Breitbart London.
“Under those agreed rules, zero rating is allowed only for a very limited number of products already zero rated in certain Member States before the advent of the EU single market. Sanitary products are not among those.
“In order for the rules to be changed – for example to exempt sanitary products from VAT – there would need to be unanimity in favour of doing so.”
And they confirmed that they “had not received a request from the UK government to change the VAT Directive to exempt sanitary products.”
The tax, which the spokesman tried to defend as necessary to pay for schools and hospitals in the UK, was condemned as an “outdated and outrageous” tax on women by Suzanne Evans, UKIP’s head of policy.
Miss Coryton said “Although our campaign doesn’t necessarily support the UK leaving the EU, we are pleased to see another major political party engage with our cause and agree that sanitary products should no longer be classed as ‘luxury, non-essential’ items.”