Sanitary products to be free by January?

Social Security Minister Elaine Millar. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (34045543)

FREE period products could be available in the community as soon as January, the Social Security Minister has said.

Deputy Elaine Millar’s comments came after Scotland became the first country in the world to make sanitary products free for all in a bid to stamp out period poverty as the cost of living rises.

Such a move locally would follow a separate initiative to make sanitary items freely available in Jersey schools from next month.

Deputy Millar said that providing free period products across the Island was a ‘key commitment’ in Chief Minister Kristina Moore’s 100 Day Action Plan.

‘I am working with officers to make this happen and will be seeking views from the public about how they would like to access products, and which products should be available and where,’ she said. ‘We are hoping to begin the roll-out of free products in the community from January 2023.’

Former Social Security Minister Judy Martin announced earlier this year that such items would be freely available in all Island schools from the start of the new academic year in a move which followed a survey in which students highlighted that many pupils struggled to access hygiene products.

‘This will help to reduce the unacceptable stigma around the issue of periods and address the overarching gender equality and dignity issues that affect all learners who menstruate,’ she said at the time, adding that she hoped the Island would eventually follow Scotland’s example.

Children’s and Education Minister Inna Gardiner said: ‘Following the decision taken by the previous Social Security Minister, schools have been sent guidance – and allocated budget – to pilot free period products in school from September. This will allow us to understand the demand for different types of products.’

States Members voted to scrap the 5% GST on sanitary products in April this year, following a proposition by then Senator Moore, who argued: ‘GST is levied on sales of goods and services in the Island. However, there are some exemptions to this rule. Medical supplies, for example, are exempt from GST. Menstrual products are not exempt. Periods are not opt-in. They are not something that is a choice – and they are not a luxury.’

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