Students’ Union cuts prices of sanitary products

IN A MOVE that benefits all students, Aberystwyth Students’ Union Shop has agreed to sell sanitary products at a 5% loss (cost price minus VAT ) following a request from the Aberystwyth Feminist Society.

The decision to sell these products at cost price was motivated, in part, by the limited options available to students around campus and the fact that dispensers selling sanitary products can be expensive.  The decision was also dependent on the fact that buying sanitary products is often time-sensitive – which further limits the options available to students. Sanitary Products in Union (Rebecca James)

Alison Salter, SU retail manager, said that the SU felt “a social responsibility” to reduce the prices of these products due to the time-sensitive nature of the purchase and the limited options available to students. In addition to thi,s the SU shop is also looking to change supplier to further reduce the prices that they are being sold at.

A Students’ Union spokesperson stated that: “Following a request from Aberystwyth Feminist Society, Aberystwyth Students’ Union is proud to announce that our shop is selling sanitary products at cost price.  The move aims to minimise the cost of these essential items, classed as luxury items by the Government, to our students. The SU welcomes comments and suggestions, and makes every effort to consider and deliver on the requests and expectations of our members, so in this case we were really pleased to be able to provide a positive and pro-active response to Charley’s inquiry.”

The government currently taxes sanitary products as luxury ‘non-essential items’, which has led to massive outcry in recent decades and numerous campaigns for the tax to be reduced or removed altogether.  The current change.org campaign is partnered with two other campaigns based in France and Canada, and as of the morning of 3rd March it has 190,797 supporters.

Aberystwyth University’s Student Union joins other Student Unions across the UK who have made a move to reduce the prices of sanitary products for their students. The University of East Anglia was hailed as the first in England, at the end of last year, to make the move to selling sanitary products for no profit in protest to the 5% tax. This has helped encourage other universities like Goldsmiths to follow in their steps.

According to BBC Newsbeat, the Students’ Union at the University of Sussex has recently re-priced their sanitary products to £2.21 for tampons and £2.34 for sanitary towels , signifying a 31% and 27% reduction in price respectively. Other universities considering selling them for no profit include Cambridge.

Charley Weatherill, Aberystwyth’s Feminist Society President said that: “We’re so pleased at the Union Shop’s positive and speedy response to the Feminist Society’s request to lower the price of sanitary products. The government’s insulting 5% ‘luxury item’ tax makes them prohibitively expensive from a lot of outlets, especially considering the money troubles that come with being a student. This is a great move which will really help people afford these essential items.”

The tax came into effect in 1973 at 17.5%, following Great Britain joining the European Union. After a campaign headed by the Labour MP Dawn Primarolo the tax was finally reduced to 5% in 2001, which is the lowest rate it can be reduced to as the EU dictates the bottom rate of VAT. Despite this limitation there are hopes that the current national campaign will lead the British government to lobby the European Union to get them to remove this tax on sanitary products altogether.