HMRC estimates that VAT receipts from the sale of women’s sanitary products were approximately £15 million in each of the last five years. The Government does not anticipate any significant change in the foreseeable future. The exchequer cost of introducing a zero rate of VAT for women’s sanitary products would therefore be approximately £15 million per year.
In January 2018, the European Commission brought forward a legislative proposal with an implementation date of 2022 to enhance Member States’ flexibility to apply reduced and zero rates of VAT. This proposal remains under discussion between officials and, if agreed to by Member States, would give the UK the legal ability to zero rate women’s sanitary products.
In Finance Act 2016, the Government committed to apply a zero rate of VAT to women’s sanitary products as soon as legally possible. In line with both our legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 and the Government’s strong commitment to gender equality, ministers carefully consider the impacts for women, along with the impacts for others sharing protected characteristics, when developing fiscal and other policies.