London: In his first budget, Rishi Sunak, the UK’s new Indian-origin Chancellor, has abolished the ‘tampon tax’ or a VAT on sanitary products, a policy which had been widely criticised for years.
While unveiling the budget on Wednesday, Sunak said the tax would end at the end of the year, when the UK formally leaves the European Union (EU), reports the Metro newspaper.
“I can also confirm, now that we have left the EU, that I will abolish the tampon tax. From January next year, there will be no VAT whatsoever on women’s sanitary products. I congratulate all members and right honourable members who campaigned for this,” the newspaper quoted Sunak as saying.
Sanitary products were currently taxed as if they are a luxury product, rather than an essential one.
The move was welcomed by campaigners. The rights group Plan International UK’s CEO Rose Caldwell said: “Today’s scrapping of the tampon tax is a landmark moment in the fight against period poverty, and it comes not a moment too soon.”
“The cost of period products remains one of the leading causes of period poverty alongside period stigma and a lack of education for young people about periods.”
A survey by the group revealed that 40 percent of girls in the UK have been forced to rely on toilet roll “because they’ve struggled to afford period products”, Caldwell added.
The UK first introduced VAT in 1973, with a standard rate of 10 per cent applied to sanitary products.
In 1974, standard VAT was cut to 8 per cent, before rising to 15 per cent in 1979 and 17.5 percent in 1991, the Daily Mail reported.
In January 2001, the UK government moved sanitary products to a reduced rate of 5 per cent following a campaign and debates in Parliament.