Campaign calls to end tampon tax with free sanitary products in all Suffolk schools

Suffolk County Council offices, Endeavour House. Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council offices, Endeavour House. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

A campaign has been launched calling for Suffolk County Council to commit cash for free female sanitary products in schools for poorer families.

Suffolk county councillor Helen Armitage said it was unacceptabel girls could not access appropriate

Suffolk county councillor Helen Armitage said it was unacceptabel girls could not access appropriate sanitary products in 2018 Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

The county council Labour group is set to put forward a motion at the full council meeting on October 18 asking the county council to commit £15,000 to ending ‘period poverty’.

It calls for provision of free tampons, sanitary towels and other products in all local authority run schools – including special schools and pupil referral units – for youngsters who cannot afford them.

The Labour group said increasing numbers of youngsters were missing school days because they were embarrassed about not having appropriate sanitary products that were expensive.

Councillor Helen Armitage, Labour spokeswoman for health, said: “We know that the more time pupils spend out of school the harder it is for them to catch up their missed learning.

“For a very small amount of money this council could ensure that these girls have the education they need and deserve.

“The reason why girls miss school is because they are embarrassed and ashamed that they have to use newspapers, towels and other inappropriate substitutes instead of suitable sanitary products.

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“The fact that girls have to sit all day with newspapers in their knickers means skipping school is the easiest solution. This is a very sorry state of affairs, but Suffolk County Council have the power to change this.”

The group added that ‘period poverty’ had no place in 2018.

Figures suggested the cost of essential hygiene products affected around one in 10 girls in the UK.

The Labour group said the £15,000 was a relatively small amount of money – and could be funded by £200 from each councillor’s locality budget.

The motion also calls on Conservative council leader Matthew Hicks to write to central government calling for an end on VAT on female sanitary products, and to encourage academy trusts, sixth form colleges and other education establishments in Suffolk to provide the same products for their students.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman confirmed that the motion had been received, and would be debated at the next full council meeting.

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