VAT on women's sanitary products

I appreciate this is an important issue to the many women who use sanitary products. However, I regret to inform you that it is not within the UK Government’s power to reduce the already discounted 5 per cent rate of VAT charged on women’s sanitary products.

This is because VAT law is governed by the EU, with EU legislation determining a very specific set of products which may be zero-rated (have no VAT). As a result, the EU does not allow the UK, or any other member state, to extend unilaterally the scope of existing zero rates or to introduce new ones.

Consequently, the current 5 per cent rate of VAT on women’s sanitary products is the lowest rate currently allowed under EU law. As it stands the Government have no power to class any products as zero rated for VAT.

The vote which was held on Monday night would not have had any bearing on the VAT levy, as part of EU negotiations this Government will request that the UK regain the right to extend this scope of existing zero rates and to be able to introduce others. This is something which I fully support.