12 Dec 2018

Leeds plans to provide free sanitary products across the city to tackle period poverty

Senior councillors are set to agree on a strategy to tackle period poverty in Leeds at next week’s executive board meeting.

Period poverty is when a person struggles or is unable to access sanitary products due to financial constraints. As one part of Leeds’ child poverty strategy, ‘Thriving’, a city wide approach is being developed that aims to eradicate period poverty.

Leeds City Council will be working with a wide variety of partners to provide free sanitary protection to schools, community hubs, one stop shops and libraries in Leeds, to ensure that no one will face the barrier of exclusion due to a lack of sanitary products. This approach builds on some fantastic work that has been done at both a local and national level by third sector and education providers.

The council and partners will be working directly with young people and adults to understand the practicalities and stigma around periods and poverty across the city, and to develop a scheme which is effective and sensitive.

A pilot study is being conducted with Carr Manor Community School and the council is also entering into partnership with the University of Leeds to work with children, young people, schools and settings in conducting research to investigate the impact of poverty on attendance.

The pilot scheme and the research findings will be used to generate sustainable, long term solutions for tackling period poverty in Leeds that are informed by the perspectives of young women.

The scheme will also include lobbying the government to declassify sanitary products as ‘luxury items’, and to remove the 5% VAT on these products.

The impact of the project will be evaluated every six months; the perspectives and perceptions of those who experience period poverty will be assessed, as well as attendance data and the take up of products.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for learning, skills and employment said:

“Period poverty is a circumstance that no one should have to experience and I’m proud that Leeds is the first city council in England to announce plans to combat it. It is so important that we create this city-wide conversation around period poverty so that people feel comfortable discussing their needs and experiences.

“The collaborative approach we have come up with will provide a sustainable, needs led solution that tackles the stigma around periods and period poverty and creates a scheme that provides free sanitary products to those who are in need in Leeds, distributed throughout a variety of locations and provisions.

“I’d like to thank Carr Manor Community School, the University of Leeds, and the other public, private and third sector partners involved for working together as we try and find a solution to a problem that, quite frankly, should not exist in this city.”

Notes to Editors

The number of children living in poverty has increased since 2011, with an increase of 200,000 between 2015 and 2016 alone; there is now an estimated 3.9 million children now living in poverty across the UK- 66% of whom live in families with at least one working parent.

· The average cost of a period is around £128 a year, or £10 a month (Bloody Good Poverty)

· One in seven girls (15 per cent) have also struggled to afford sanitary wear (Plan International)

· One in seven girls (14 per cent) have had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues (Plan International)

· More than one in ten girls (12%) has had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues (Plan International)

· One in five (19%) of girls have changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost (Plan International)

For media enquiries:

Becky Stubbs, Leeds City Council press office

Tel: 01133 786199

Email: rebecca.stubbs@leeds.gov.uk

For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team