Motion from Oldham Liberal Democrat council group on period poverty

Councillor Howard Sykes, LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader, writes:

“Below is a motion submitted to Oldham Council by my colleagues, councillor Diane Williamson and councillor Hazel Gloster, on period poverty – I encourage you to adapt it for your authority and submit to your next full council meeting.”

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.

Council commends:

  • 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.

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