‘Consigned to the history books’: ‘Tampon tax’ scrapped from today

The 5% rate of VAT on women’s sanitary products – known as the “tampon tax” – has been scrapped.

The government had committed to axing the unpopular tax in March’s budget and the change took effect on New Year’s Day.

EU law had prevented member states from reducing VAT below 5%, but Brexit means a zero rate of VAT for the products can now be introduced.

Before the UK left the bloc, period products were treated as “luxury” rather than “essential items”, a practice described as “sexist” by some campaigners.

During Wednesday’s Brexit debate, Sir Bernard Jenkin, Conservative chairman of the Commons Liaison Select Committee, said: “I feel we’re having a debate about a glass being half-full or a glass being half-empty.

“But I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that we will be able to do things like abolish the tampon tax, which so many honourable ladies opposite railed against the government about, only because we’re leaving the EU.”

The Treasury has estimated the move will save the average woman nearly £40 over her lifetime, with a cut of 7p on a pack of 20 tampons and 5p on 12 pads.