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“Great initial feedback “ for free sanitary products scheme

ByGavin Dewar

Sep 30, 2015

Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) has hailed its free sanitary products service as a great success, one week after setting up the programme.

Sanitary products, condoms, and safer sex products are now available at the Advice Place in Potterrow. According to EUSA sabbatical officers, pregnancy tests will also be available soon.

Andy Peel, EUSA’s Vice-President Societies and Activities (VPSA), who pledged to set up the service in his election manifesto along with Vice-President Services (VPS) Urte Macikene, told The Student: “We’ve had great initial feedback from students and I hope this encourages other student unions and universities to follow suite [sic].”

Peel confirmed that the scheme is here to stay, saying, “As far as we’re concerned this isn’t a trial. We will look to continue this provision on a long term basis.”

VPS Macikene spoke to The Student before the official launch of the service last week, saying “I’m really, really pleased that it’s something that happened, and all of our staff seemed to be really on board with it as it’s a service we provide them as well.”

When asked about how the scheme is being financed, Macikene continued: “So we obviously stock sanitary products in our shops. And what we’ve done is just take a bunch of that stock and put it in the Advice Place, and just write it off essentially in the budget.”

She noted that “Conrad [Jones], our commercial director was really on board, and at the moment, it’s something we’re committed to providing on an on-going basis, but we’re going to see how much people are using it. And if it is to quite a limited extent that people are using it, then we can continue to just take it from our budget.

“If it takes off, we’ll have to find a different way to find a wholesale supplier.”

Peel reiterated this, saying: “In terms of costs, EUSA is currently absorbing the costs, and is happy to do so, however should demand outstrip what we can afford to support we’ll look at alternative ways to pay for the scheme.”

It was suggested that some producers of sanitary products have shown interest in sponsoring the programme if demand increases.

Macikene, in her VPS manifesto, had initially also set out to challenge the five per cent ‘luxury item’ VAT rate on sanitary products, saying: “I don’t think it’s a luxury to bleed from the vagina!”

However, she acknowledged to The Student that the tax’s complete elimination would be highly unlikely during her time in office.

“I did a lot more research into it. It is an issue that is deeply entrenched in EU law, not in any way under control of the British Government”, she explained, saying that, due to a complex web of old and new British and European legislation, a change in the rules for sanitary products would lead to a change in the rules for many other products too.

EUSA shops, however, now offer sanitary products at a discount price, so as to essentially alleviate the extra cost imposed by the ‘luxury item’ tax.

Image credit: Sarah Manavis

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