The system will kick in at the start of the next academic year. 

The UK Government will provide free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from the next school year.

Chancellor Philip Hammond made the announcement in the spring statement, where the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast growth of 1.2% this year – a downgrade from the 1.6% forecast at the Budget in 2018.

"In response to rising concern by headteachers that some girls are missing school attendance due to inability to afford sanitary products, I have decided to fund the provision of free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from the next school year," he said. 

The move comes after campaigners called for action from the government, amid claims that girls from low-income families end up missing school during their periods because they are unable to afford sanitary protection.

A poll carried out for the charity Plan International of 1,000 girls and women aged 14 to 21 in 2017 found that one in 10 had been unable to afford sanitary wear.

A further 12% were forced to improvise protection because of the products' expense. 

In August 2018, the Scottish government became the first in the world to make sanitary products available free to all pupils and students at schools, colleges and universities.

A similar study by Plan International held in 2018 showed that nearly half of Irish teenage girls are struggling to afford sanitary products during their period.

According to the report, some 61% of Irish girls have missed school because of their period and more than 80% said they did not feel comfortable talking about their periods with their father or a teacher.

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