Recently I learnt of a campaign by the Terrence Higgins Trust that makes so much sense I cannot understand why it has not been acted upon by the Government yet.
At the moment condoms in the UK are amongst the most expensive in the world. With a cost twice that of those in the US and exceeding the prices across Europe, access to safe sex costs. Whilst free condoms are theoretically available from the NHS, rationing limits supplies and many young people find it difficult to ask for them. The current high prices are a disincentive to use, especially amongst those in at risk groups.
At present the money raised by the VAT on condoms is miniscule compared to the ost of over £1 billion a year to treat sexually transmitted infections and the £350 million and rising cost of HIV care. Making it easier to access safe sex by cutting the VAT on condoms would be a wise investment that would more than pay for itself.
This is supported by experts such as the Government's own Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV, who recommended the abolition of VAT on all over-the-counter contraceptives. Current EU regulations mean that the VAT could not be lowered below 5%, but this would be a worthwhile start.
Taking this action would not only help in the fight against STIs, but it would also be a dual step towards freeing individuals to take the action of their choice and a reduction in the burden of taxation on the individual.