Part B - Specific Guidance in relation to Section 1
Guidance in Part B relates specifically to local authorities however this Guidance is in addition to that in Part A to which regard must also be given. Section 1 of the Act requires local authorities to ensure that anyone within their local area who requires period products can obtain them free of charge, in sufficient quantities to meet their needs. This responsibility extends to individuals residing in the local authority area, those who work there and those visiting. No proof of residence should be required to access free products. Individuals can take their full requirement of products (which will vary depending on the individual), either in bulk or regular supply, depending on the local arrangements that are in place.
1. Local Arrangements
In considering their local arrangements local authorities should take account of the opening hours of locations where products are obtainable and how to meet need arising outwith working hours, particularly at weekends.
Local authorities should give consideration to having in place contingency arrangements in the event of future pandemics to ensure they can continue to meet their duties.
2. Individuals who may face additional barriers to accessing products
For a number of reasons it may be that some people face additional barriers to accessing free products. This may apply to the following groups, but local authorities may identify further groups experiencing specific barriers in their area to whom they will also give specific consideration:
- disabled people
- homeless people
- victims of domestic abuse
- individuals with caring responsibilities
- individuals living in remote locations
- where cultural barriers exist
When considering their arrangements local authorities should give particular consideration to any additional barriers individuals in these, or other, groups may encounter in trying to access free products. It is recommended that organisations representing these groups locally are specifically and/or separately consulted on potential additional or alternative arrangements that might need to be put in place to ensure their needs can be met with reasonable ease.
It is acceptable for local authorities to make free products available through specific services that are not open to everyone, including those that are targeted at the groups above, or other groups, as long as additional access routes are available for those who cannot access the specific service. For example products may be made available through services for homeless people, however homeless people are also entitled to access free products in other locations. However access to free products must not be contingent on accessing, or being eligible for, another form of support.
The Simon Project is an example of good practice in Glasgow and Edinburgh where homeless people can access period products. They have a map of points where people experiencing homelessness can access free products to use during their period.
3. Ability for others to collect products on behalf of individuals
The Act requires local authorities to ensure that free period products are obtainable by another person on behalf of the person who needs the products. In some cases this provision may allow those facing barriers to access products as it allows, for example, a carer to obtain products on behalf of the person they care for, or an individual of either gender to obtain products for a partner or relative who menstruates but cannot leave their home. The arrangements put in place should still meet the particular requirements and also those who may wish to obtain products on behalf of someone else should be able to easily find out how they can do so.
4. Postage of products and charging
Local authorities can, if they wish, include postal delivery of free period products as part of the arrangements to meet their duties under section 1, however this should be as one part of local arrangements, and should not be the only way in which products can be obtained. The Act allows for local authorities to charge for postage and packing, except where an individual could not reasonably obtain products in accordance with the arrangements in any other way. The Act does not specify what constitutes not being able to reasonably obtain products in any other way - individual local authorities should make their own judgements on this. However, some examples of this may be where a person lives in a remote area and would need to travel a long distance to access products in person or where they cannot access products in person and do not have someone who can collect the products on their behalf. In these cases individuals should not be charged for postage and packaging – however in some cases innovative approaches to reaching such individuals may be possible, for example through other mobile services in remote communities.
There is no obligation on local authorities to provide postal delivery of free products to individuals on a fee-paying basis in circumstances where individuals can reasonably be expected to obtain products in another way ie for convenience or personal preference reasons only. It is for local authorities to make decisions on a system for charging for postage and how this is administered, if this option is included within their arrangements.
Arrangements around postal delivery and the circumstances in which this will be free/charged for should be covered by the consultation carried out by local authorities and relevant information should be included within the information local authorities make available publicly.
If personal data is necessary for the functioning of part of a local authority's arrangements, for example postal delivery of products, they must consider their obligations under the UKGDPR.
5. School hostels
Provision of free products specifically within residential accommodation for pupils at local authority schools (often referred to as school hostels) is not covered under section 2 duties. Under section 2, local authorities will be required to provide all pupils who are accommodated in hostels with sufficient products, on school premises, to meet their term-time needs. Therefore pupils will need to be able to take products from school to meet their needs at evenings and weekends.
While there is no requirement on local authorities to provide products in hostels, local authorities may wish to consider the appropriateness of including provision of free products in school hostels as part of the arrangements put in place under section 1, and cover this in consultation.
Local authorities must consult in relation to both section 1 and section 2 and the requirements for consultation in relation to the different duties are different. Guidance on general consultation requirements is provided in Part A, and on consultation in relation to schools in Part C. In order to include the views of school pupils in relation to the arrangements under section 1, local authorities may wish to ask questions around wider arrangements outwith schools alongside consultation on arrangements in schools.
7. Administration of these responsibilities
The Act places statutory duties on local authorities, rather than the voluntary provision already in place. Local authorities may therefore find it helpful to appoint a lead individual within the organisation to take overall responsibility of meeting the duties set out in the Act.
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