A 'sexist' tax on sanitary products has been abolished in the UK from today (1 January).
EU law stipulates that members must place a five percent rate of VAT on tampons and sanitary towels as they are classed as non-essential items, but chancellor Rishi Sunak committed to scrapping the tax in his March Budget, once the UK had officially left the EU.
Activists have campaigned for the so-called tampon tax to be scrapped for 20 years.
Felicia Willow, chief executive of women's rights charity the Fawcett Society, said: "We warmly welcome the scrapping of VAT on all sanitary products from 1 January 2021 and congratulate the government on taking this positive step.
"It's been a long road to reach this point, but at last the sexist tax that saw sanitary products classed as non-essential, luxury items can be consigned to the history books."
Laura Coryton - who has been campaigning to end the tax for six years and started a petition that attracted more than 300,000 signatures - said the move has come at a crucial time.
Speaking to the BBC, she said: "I'm just so happy and relieved and excited at the same time for this tax to finally be axed.
"It will mean a reduction in prices for period products, and that reduction in cost will be important for the increasing number of people who are battling with poverty, especially due to the pandemic."
Lots of reasons to celebrate & be positive tonight - one of the best being that from midnight the #TamponTax is abolished!
That's a reason to raise a glass & thank the many campaigners who have led this campaign over many years@LauraCoryton @AmikaGeorge @paulasherriff :heart::heart: pic.twitter.com/00YIx740Qe
- The Eve Appeal (@eveappeal) December 31, 2020
I'm proud that we are today delivering on our promise to scrap the tampon tax. https://t.co/33HRBLKk7X pic.twitter.com/gbjIDRrrGD
- Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) January 1, 2021
The Treasury estimates the move will save the average person who menstruates £40 over their lifetime, with 20 packs of tampons down by 7p and a pack of 12 sanitary pads down by 5p.
Chancellor Sunak said: "I'm proud that we are today delivering on our promise to scrap the tampon tax.
"Sanitary products are essential so it's right that we do not charge VAT.
"We have already rolled out free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals and this commitment takes us another step closer to making them available and affordable for all women."
Featured Image Credit: PA