Remember that tax on period products that got everyone (quite rightly) peeved back in 2015? The money that’s raised as a result of the tax is now at least being put to good use — shared among community charities that work to support some of the country’s most vulnerable women and girls.
Each of the charities will be receiving between £5,000 and just over £10,000 to support them in their work, which many of them manage “on a shoestring,” according to Vicki Papworth, the director of programmes and development for UK Community Foundations (UKFC) — which manages the distribution of the funding.
The Tampon Tax Community Fund is shared to help support the recipient organisations in tackling issues that affect women and girls across the country, including period poverty, domestic and sexual abuse, mental health, and long-term unemployment.
And it will “enable [the groups] to run some amazing projects that make a difference on the ground to the women and girls who need it most,” said Papworth in a statement.
But there is concern about the financial support women’s and girls’ charities across the UK are receiving, with the tampon tax fund being “oversubscribed in all areas," according to the UKCF.
In fact, just 25% of the 1,500 applications received could be supported through this round of funding — with “vital” projects going unsupported through lack of available money.
One of the Community Foundations networks that helped distribute the funding, Quartet Community Foundation, tweeted that it was “v disappointed” to only be able to support seven of the 40 projects for women and girls that had applied.
“There’s still a pressing unmet need to support women & girls mental health,” it added.
Meanwhile Southside Family Project, one of those that did receive funding for its Family Champions project, added: “This is such a critical area where more funding is needed. Sorry to hear that so many good projects missed out this time.”
We awarded #tampontax grants to 7 groups but we were v disappointed to only be able to support 7/40 projs for women & girls that applied. There's still a pressing unmet need to support women & girls mental health. Full list of Tampon Tax grants here: https://t.co/59s2E8eCzopic.twitter.com/CT60FdVSW7— Quartet CF (@QuartetCF) January 17, 2019
Thank you to @QuartetCF for supporting @southsidebanes Family Champions through the Tampon Tax fund. This is such a critical area where more funding is needed. Sorry to hear that so many good projects missed out this time. https://t.co/K542Zg7vji— Southside Family Project (@SouthsideBanes) January 23, 2019
Among those projects that were successful, however, were:
- Bradford Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Survivors Service — just under £10,000 to run mindfulness courses to support female survivors of sexual violence.
- Voluntary Action NE in Grimsby — £6,000 to provide period products and information group support sessions for young people using their youth bus.
- Fife Women’s Aid — £10,000 to provide counselling services to women experiencing domestic abuse, helping grow their confidence and self-esteem, learn practical skills, and better manage their feelings.
- The Mega Bytes Girls Only Club in Belfast — £10,000 to increase the skills of young girls aged 11-16 from disadvantaged backgrounds in computer science and technology.
- Women Connect First in Cardiff — just over £10,000 to help BAME women in Cardiff to reduce isolation, create support networks, and increase access to services.
- Samee in Bournemouth — £9,000 to support out-of-work single mums to become self-employed through building entrepreneurial skills and increasing their confidence.
- My Sisters’ House in Arun and Chichester — just under £10,000 towards the launch of a buddy system for women and girls who are traumatised as a result of abuse.
The Tampon Tax Community Fund was launched in 2015 — and applications for the round of funding that has just been announced opened in September 2018.
For those hoping to receive a share of the next round, applications have already been opened by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, and the funding will be awarded in the summer.
“Many people have asked me why such a fund exists, and wouldn’t it be better if there was no tax in the first place on sanitary products?” said Fabian French, chief executive of UK Community Foundations, in a statement when the fund was launched.
“I completely agree that there shouldn’t be such a tax,” he continued. “However, whilst there is a tax and a fund, I believe that we are definitely best placed to distribute it. We know that we can, in partnership with local groups, support women and girls who are the most marginalised to overcome barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their potential.”
But using the money we have to pay for essential products to then fund much-needed services to support some of the country’s most vulnerable women and girls sparks significant questions about the national funding of women’s and girls’ groups.
Back in 2015, hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition to stop tax being charged on period products — enough signatures for the then-chancellor George Osborne to address the issue in his 2015 Autumn Statement.
“We already charge the lowest 5% rate allowable under European law and we’re committed to getting the EU rules changed,” he said at the time. “Until that happens, I’m going to use the £15 million a year raised from the tampon tax to fund women’s health and support charities.”