Annual Delegates Conference 2024: Motion to remove VAT on bras carried

Bras are a basic necessity and subjecting them to VAT is harming women's physical health, the SoR has heard at ADC

Published: 16 April 2024 EDI

A motion raised at the SoR's Annual Delegates Conference calling for the removal of VAT from bras has been approved. 

The SoR heard from proponents of the motion at the Annual Delegates Conference (ADC), who argued that bras – like menstrual products – are vital for women’s health.

According to the motion, presented to delegates on Tuesday 16 April, the removal of the “tampon tax” in January 2021 is an example of one such situation where VAT was removed from products related to women’s physical health.

Suitability, not cost

Kevin Tucker, a delegate from Wales, proposed the motion and explained the importance of supporting women to purchase bras based on suitability rather than cost, and called on UK Council to lobby government to remove VAT on bras. 

Women who have had breast-cancer surgery, such as mastectomies or lumpectomies, are already exempt from VAT when buying certain bras.

The motion said: “The imposition of VAT on bras disproportionately affects women. Taxing bras could be considered discriminatory as per the Equality Act, 2010.” 

Musculoskeletal problems

Increased bra costs discourage women from buying well-fitted bras, they added, and poor-fitting bras can cause physical pain.

Diagnostic Radiographers carry out X-rays, MRI and CT scans, which can be used to identify the musculoskeletal problems caused by poorly fitted bras.   

The delegates added: “While there may not be any health conditions related to wearing a bra, there could be some musculoskeletal (MSK) ones, particularly if you wear a larger cup size.  

“Those who are wearing a bra size D or above often get backaches, aching shoulders and neck pain, because of the weight of their breasts. Wearing a good-quality, well-fitted bra could alleviate some of these issues, and reduce time off sick for MSK issues.” 

Issue of equality

Gill Hodges, delegate from Northern Ireland, further explained that the topic had received coverage on LBC, BBC, and Times Radio, and expressed her hopes that the motion would receive greater support and traction.

She emphasised that this was an equality issue, as “only people with breasts have to pay for VAT on bras.”

Ms. Hodges asked attendees of ADC to support the motion in order to support patients.

The motion was carried by attendees. 

ADC provides members with the unique opportunity to help shape the strategic direction of the Society, and wider profession.

Bringing together up to 300 members, including regional representatives, regional and national officers and UK Council, ADC deals with current issues within the radiography profession, or matters of personal importance to members.

Find out more about ADC here. 

(Image: Isabel Pavia, via GettyImages)