Free sanitary products: Scotland MSPs set to back plans to end period poverty

Scotland is set to take a ground-breaking step towards tackling period poverty today (25 Feb), as MSPs vote on a new bill.

The legislation, put forward by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, is expected to pass its first vote in Holyrood later today, with MSPs set to back plans to make period products available to all free of charge.

Period Products Bill

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If passed, the Period Products Bill would make Scotland the first country in the world to provide period products for all women, completely free of charge.

The legislation is expected to pass its first vote in Holyrood later today (25 Feb)

At the moment, tampons, sanitary pads and some reusable products are funded in schools, colleges and universities, which the Scottish government provided £5.2 million in funding to support.

A further £4 million was made available to councils to allow the roll-out to expand to other public places, along with another £50,000 for free provision in sports clubs.

The move to back the motion to make products free for all women comes after the Scottish government changed its position on the issue and pledged to support the bill last week.

A change in stance

Ministers had originally opposed the proposals, expressing concerns about the deliverability of the plans and the estimated £34 million annual cost of implementing the legislation.

However, after first being proposed by MSP Lennon in 2017, the bill is now expected to pass the first legal hurdle at Holyrood today, with support from MSPs in all parties.

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Just last week, ministers said they still had “significant and very real concerns” about the legislation and costs, but they would back the Period Products Bill at its first parliamentary stage with a view to making amendments as it progressed through parliament.

The bill would create a legal duty on the Scottish government to ensure that period products are available “for anyone who needs them”, free of charge.

The proposed legislation has also received support, ahead of the debate, from groups, including Girlguiding Scotland and the trade union Unite.