Campaigners and councillors have praised a move to make sanitary products free for pupils in secondary schools and colleges from September.

Philip Hammond, chancellor of the exchequer, announced the funding plans – which do not include primary schools – during his spring statement on the morning of Wednesday, March 13.

Ayo Sokale, who called for action on period poverty at Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Policy committee in January, said the news was ‘really positive’ but there is a ‘long way to go’.

It is not yet known how much funding schools will get for provision of sanitary products.

Chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond said the announcement was in response to rising concern by headteachers that some girls are missing school attendance due to an inability to afford sanitary products.

He congratulated ‘honourable members who have campaigned on this issue on all sides of the House’ and said the education secretary would announce further details ‘in due course’.

The announcement follows nationwide campaigning to end ‘period poverty’, including from Reading residents and councillors.

Ms Sokale, a Labour candidate for Caversham ward in this year’s elections, said: “It is really positive news, but we have a long way to go. This is an example of what we can achieve with local action.

“It is really essential that we don’t stop the work here and that we get it in primary schools.

“Girls start there period quite often in primary school. I don’t think putting an age bracket on it is going to help things.

“They should not have to worry about if their family can afford sanitary products. This is a basic human need.”

Councillor Graeme Hoskin, lead member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Real credit to the campaigners.

“There has been a lot of evidence in terms of days lost to young women in schools as a result of this issue. Hopefully it will be enough money for schools which are struggling on funding cuts.”

He said the council would look at what it can do help the wider community.

Ms Sokale added: “The work being done by Free Periods and Red Box is still crucial. Until September, we have a lot of work to do.

“We have been increasing the number of pick up points. We are bringing in a new Red Box collection in Caversham.”

She also called for the government’s policy to match Scotland’s, which also includes provision for primary school children.

In Scotland, sanitary products have been available for free in schools, colleges and universities since August 2018, and in public places such as libraries and leisure centres since January 2019.

No other cash was announced for schools.