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Pupils: Sanitary Protection

Department for Education written question – answered on 14th February 2018.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to ensure all school students have access to sanitary products.

Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to reduce period poverty among 14 to 21 year olds.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

No girl should be held back from reaching her potential because of her background or gender; this is why our current Sex and Relationships Education guidance encourages schools to make adequate and sensitive arrangements to help girls cope with menstruation.

Schools are best placed to identify and address the needs of their pupils, and have discretion over how they use their funding and can make sanitary products available to disadvantaged pupils if they identify this as a barrier to attainment or attendance. We support schools in addressing the needs of disadvantaged pupils through the provision of the Pupil Premium, equivalent to almost £2.5 billion of additional funding this year alone. For students over 16, the 16-19 Bursary Fund can be used to support students from vulnerable groups and those who may face financial hardship to participate in education.

As a government, we are helping millions of families meet the everyday cost of living and keep more of what they earn. We are helping more people provide for themselves – with 3 million more people in work compared to 2010. We have introduced the National Living Wage, doubled free childcare to help support parents with the cost of bringing up children and cut income tax, leaving a basic rate taxpayer over £1,000 better off every year than in 2010. We also continue to spend around £90 billion a year supporting people including those who are out of work or on a low income.

We strongly support cutting VAT to zero on sanitary products and that is why the Finance Act 2016 included legislation to make this happen. However, we cannot do this under current EU law, so we are charging five per cent VAT – the lowest possible rate. We’re awarding £15 million a year to women’s charities through the Tampon Tax Fund – equivalent to the amount of VAT raised from the sale of women’s sanitary products. In the current round of Tampon Tax Funding, we have identified period poverty as a sub-theme in the general programme and have welcomed applications which address this issue.

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