A Bill which would have placed a duty on the Scottish Government to ensure free period products are available on a universal basis failed to win the support of a Scottish Parliament Committee.
The Local Government and Communities Committee said that while they are unanimous in their support of the intentions underpinning the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, more clarity on both costs and what such a scheme would look like is required before legislation should be contemplated.
The majority of the Committee raised concerns over the financing of the scheme, highlighting the large disparity between the costs to implement a universal scheme presented in the Bill’s Financial Memorandum and the Scottish Government’s own estimates.
The Committee commended the work of Monica Lennon in bringing forward the Bill. However, in scrutinising the proposed legislation, the Committee took evidence on targeted measures already put in place by the Scottish Government which provide free period products in schools, universities and some local authority buildings and learned that evaluation of those measures is ongoing. The majority of the Committee agreed that there was a lack of clarity on whether a universal scheme was needed, what the total cost might be and how much it may grow. They were also concerned about the significant work which would be required by Ministers to devise and develop a universal scheme.
Speaking as the report was published, Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, James Dornan MSP, said:
“A difficulty in affording and accessing period products affects people across Scotland every day, and the Committee is aware of the need to reduce stigma around menstruation.
“We applaud Monica Lennon for all her efforts in bringing this Bill before the Scottish Parliament and helping to raise awareness of these issues.
“The Committee also commends the work undertaken by local authorities, the third sector, and grassroots groups to promote and deliver existing schemes and welcomes the positive response to the Government’s targeted provision of free products.
“However, the Committee has concerns about the Bill as drafted, including a lack of clarity over how much a universal scheme would cost, what a scheme would look like and the work required by Ministers to implement it.
“This is clearly a serious and important issue and the Scottish Government should ensure that current schemes are accessible to everyone who needs them. But for the majority of the Committee it is clear that the legislation before us is not the answer.”
“Andy Wightman MSP and Sarah Boyack MSP did support the General Principles of the Bill and dissented from a number of the Report’s conclusions. Details can be found in the Committee’s report.”