International Women's Day 2023: Liberal Democrats renew urgent calls for Lambeth Council to tackle period poverty

Total spend on period products over a lifetime can be as much as £5,000. 

Whilst evidence suggests many women and girls are struggling to afford period products, with some being forced to use tampons or pads for longer than recommended or even using tissues or doubling up their underwear. This practice is both potentially unsafe and ineffective.

An ActionAid survey in 2022 showed those who struggled to afford period products in the last six months, 75 per cent said they prioritised spending money on food, 49 per cent prioritised gas/electric and 31 per cent prioritised fuel, and of them one in 10 used a food bank to obtain period products.

Amidst the worst cost of living crisis for over 40 years, a new poll from Plan International of 1,000 UK girls aged 14 to 21 reveals that over a quarter (28 per cent) are struggling to afford period products, and nearly one in five (19 per cent) report being unable to afford period products at all since the start of 2022.

Lambeth Lib Dems brought the issue of period poverty to the council's attention in their alternative budget last week which was rejected by Lambeth Labour’s administration.

The proposals showed for Lambeth Council to make period products available in council buildings in 2023/24 it would cost as little as £22,000. 

However this would make a huge impact in tackling period poverty throughout the borough.

Leader of the Lambeth Lib Dem Council Group, Cllr Donna Harris is calling on Lambeth Council join other Councils across the country, including Southwark, Surrey, Oxford, Greenwich and Lib-Dem controlled Sutton, who have all committed to providing free sanitary products in Council run buildings, schools and colleges with urgency.

Leader of the Lambeth Lib Dem Council Group, Councillor Donna Harris commented: 

“Period products are a necessity, not a luxury, and they should be treated as such. People of all ages should be able to participate fully in life with dignity.

In today's society it is a disgrace that so many should be left to suffer in silence!”

“It is completely unacceptable that an estimated 6 million women have avoided or missed exercise and 2 million women have avoided or missed work due to being on their period in the last year.”

“We also need to support vulnerable women, such as asylum seekers, who have particular difficulty in accessing sanitary products. 

According to Women for Refugee Women, 75 per cent of vulnerable women struggled to obtain period pads or tampons while destitute.”

“The Council should also lobby the Government to follow suit the Scottish Parliament who enacted legal requirements in the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 for local councils and education providers to make period products freely available within their buildings.”

Notes to editors