At the full September meeting of Oldham Council (Wednesday 12 September), the Oldham Liberal Democrat Group will be proposing a motion to address period poverty. Councillor Diane Williamson will be proposing and Councillor Hazel Gloster will be seconding the motion.
Councillor Williamson said: “It is scandalous that in a country with such wealth as Great Britain young girls should be in a position where they cannot afford sanitary protects and do not want to put pressure on their parents to purchase some, and then they resort to alternatives like using a soak. It is not right that they feel stigmatised in school and bullied for their body performing its natural function.”
“I am really pleased that Scotland is tackling this by introducing free sanitary products in all education establishments. In Wales, they have invested £1m into introducing packs that are then given out to community groups, schools and foodbanks. This kind of provision needs to be rolled out across England too,” added Councillor Hazel Gloster.
“Students who cannot afford sanitary products miss days from school and consequently their education loses out. We want all our young people to reach their full potential both inside and outside the classroom and this funding will help to ensure they are properly supported,” said Councillor Diane Williamson.
In addition to period poverty a punitive taxation policy is in place whereby female hygiene products are classed as a luxury product and VAT is levied on them.
“Come on – live in the real world! When is suffering pain every month and being hygienic a luxury? It isn’t and should not be treated as such. So, we need to be doing something about it. That is why I am pleased to support this motion,” said Councillor Williamson.
THE NOTICE OF MOTION IS PRINTED BELOW:
Council 12 Sept 2018 – Notice of Opposition Business –
Motion 2 – Period Poverty
This Council notes that:
A survey by Plan International UK found that 1 in 10 teenage girls had been unable to afford sanitary products;
- 56% of teenage girls said they would rather be bullied at school than talk to their parents about periods;
- This is particularly problematic for girls from low-income families who see their parents struggling to make ends meet and feel reluctant to ask them to add sanitary products to the weekly shop;
- In many cases, as a result, they may lose a significant number of days of schooling;
- Regrettably, even women in low-income employment are sometimes unable to afford such products when struggling to meet household bills and feed their families;
- Ironically only female prisoners have a statutory right to access free sanitary products.
Council believes in a country as well-off as Britain ‘Period Poverty’ is a scandal that should be ended.
- The Scottish Government for its commitment to tackle ‘Period Poverty’ by introducing free sanitary products in all educational establishments, and notes that Scotland was one of the first countries to pilot a scheme to young women and girls in need in Aberdeen;
- The project recently established by the 21st Oldham Friezland Rangers and the charity Red Box whereby members of the public can donate sanitary products in branded boxes located in prominent places for re-distribution to students in need attending our local schools and colleges.
Council resolves to:
- Ask the Overview and Scrutiny Board and Health and Well-being Board, working with relevant Cabinet Members, officers and partners, to explore with local secondary schools and colleges how sanitary products can be made available free to students in their establishments;
- Ask the Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State for Education and Chancellor asking the Government to scrap the VAT levied on female hygiene products as soon as is practicable and in the meantime to use the VAT collected on these products to fund the provision of free sanitary products for girls and women in need.