Politicians retain tampon tax despite listed pick-up points missing period products

  • An ITV News investigation has revealed that of the 32 locations where Jersey's government advertised free period products, only 11 had any available.

Politicians have voted to retain GST on period products, overturning a previous States decision to remove the 5% sales tax on sanitary items.

In October 2022, ministers announced a pilot scheme offering the products free of charge in public spaces.

They said the move would help fight period poverty and tackle the stigma surrounding menstruation.

Initially, the products were advertised as being available at five 'pick-up points' - Communicare, Fort Regent, the town library, the government offices at La Motte Street, and Les Quennevais Sports Centre - but since then, the scheme has expanded with 32 public places being advertised as having period products available.

Period products were made available free of charge in public spaces including libraries and community centres. Credit: ITV Channel

Since then, the Council of Ministers said as period products are now available free of charge, a previously approved proposition lodged by the now Chief Minister - Deputy Kristina Moore - to abolish the so-called "tampon tax" and scrap GST on period products is no longer needed.

The Treasury Minister - Deputy Ian Gorst - proposed the U-turn, backed by Deputy Moore and the Health and Social Security Ministers - Deputies Karen Wilson and Elaine Millar.

They said that as "the intention and purpose" of the original proposition to tackle period poverty had been "met and surpassed by the government", introducing GST exemptions would create an "administrative burden" on retailers and the States Treasury.

But ITV News can reveal that around two thirds of the locations advertised by Jersey's government as having free period products available do not have any.

A list published on gov.je set out 32 different 'pick-up points' - including government buildings, community centres and public toilets.

But an investigation by ITV News revealed that of those locations, just 11 had any period products available:

  • Of the locations where free period products were being advertised, 65% did not have any available.

Following enquiries by ITV News, the government's online list had been updated and most of the locations removed.

It's understood period products will be available from the 20 public toilets later this week.

Speaking ahead of this afternoon's vote in the States, Jersey's Social Security Minister - Deputy Elaine Millar - said: "I signed the rescindment proposition, and I'll be voting in favour of the proposition because we have a better alternative which is a provision of free products if people need them.

"Removing GST will have no effect on women except to satisfy a point of principle."

Caritas is a Jersey charity which works to support vulnerable people. Its CEO Patrick Lynch says: "I would strongly encourage [Deputy Millar] to consider her position when voting for this.

"You can't complain that things are being provided but a lot of what's being provided are at perhaps at the lower end of the product market from what we understand."

The Ministers' proposition to scrap the proposed tax exemption was debated by States Members this afternoon.

It was passed by 25 votes to 21, leaving Jersey as the only place in the British Isles to charge a tax on the sale of sanitary products.

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