Last month in July, the BBC reported that Tesco has become the first UK supermarket to cover the cost of the tampon tax for customers. They circumvented the issue of VAT by cutting the price of nearly 100 women’s sanitary products by 5%. As a consequence, Tesco will absorb the cost of VAT. This was a decision made in order to help women who find themselves in financial difficulty.

The issue around tampons has been at the centre of feminist lobbying in recent months. Campaigners argue that sanitary products are a necessity and should not stand as a costly expense that could mean women are unable to afford products. Lobbyists have been demanding that the government scraps VAT entirely on women’s sanitary products for years, but due to EU rules, dissenting party members and no strong government line it has been unable to lower the rate below 5%.

There are multiple ways that students can approach this move by Tesco. What are the implications of a major corporation taking such initiative on a controversial subject?

Students that study HSPS or History often think about how social moods and ideas change. For example, how government actions can often lead or indeed hinder change. With multinational corporations like Tesco now having more power and influence, do they have the capability to lead social change with their actions?

It will be interesting to see if other UK supermarkets follow Tesco’s lead.

In terms of corporate responsibility, students wanting to study Economics may want to look at how wealthy companies like Tesco now have the ability to make decisions based on moral standpoints and guidance.

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