It's difficult to believe that despite persistent criticism and campaign work, we are still paying 5% VAT on tampons and other sanitary products. But while women continue to be taxed on their biological functions, there's some comfort in knowing that the money raised by the "tampon tax" is awarded to various women's charities.
However, the government has confirmed that it is still planning to award £250,000 of tampon tax money to Life, an anti-abortion organisation. When details of this grant emerged earlier this year, it was widely and rightly criticised. Labour MP Paula Sherriff said at the time: "It will seem bitterly ironic to many women if we are taxed for our biology, only for the government to hand over that money to organisations that don't even believe we should have control over our own bodies."
The Guardian has now learned through a Freedom of Investigation request that Life, which says its vision is to make abortion "a thing of the past," will be prohibited from spending the money on publicity, or its highly dubious counselling and education services for pregnant women.
Life told the newspaper: "There is no need for ‘prohibition’ on how the grant is used. We have been very clear with the government in actually specifying that the grant will not be used for counselling or education. As we have stated before, all funds received from the government will be used to support vulnerable women in crisis."
On Twitter, many women have reacted with an entirely justified mix of anger and frustration.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has also criticised the government's decision to award Life tampon tax money, telling The Guardian: "It is not fitting for what is ultimately a tax on women’s bodies to be spent in this way when there are so many other projects supporting women and their choices which have not benefited."
In July, Tesco became the first UK supermarket chain to cover the cost of the tampon tax for its customers. Co-Op, Morrisons and Waitrose have all since followed suit.