Personal care brand Natracare has welcomed the decision made by Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to remove the 5% VAT rate on period care products, more commonly known as the ‘tampon tax’.

The change comes into effect from 1 January 2021 and marks the end of a long-fought campaign by activists, including Natracare founder and CEO Susie Hewson, who have maintained the view the period products should be categorized as essential items and not be subject to the same VAT rates as ‘non-essential, luxury items’.

Recent history has seen the Government shift its position on the levy imposed on period care items, in 2001 reducing the tampon tax from 17.5% to 5%, and in 2014 once again debating the issue in Parliament after the Stop Taxing Periods campaign amassed over 315,0000 signatures.

Pads, panty liners and tampons have always been taxed as ‘non-essential’ items – which is completely illogical

Now, says Natracare, the scrapping of this ‘discriminatory’ levy will bring period products under the same VAT rules as food and drink, and will be ‘welcome news for all people who menstruate’.

“Classing period products as luxury items should never have been allowed,” comments Eleanor Hunt, sales and marketing executive, Natracare. “Period products have always been essential for the people that use them. The 0% VAT rate is about fairness and equality – no one should have to pay more for simply having a period. Unfortunately, the period stigma is still very real, but the Government’s decision to class period products as essential items will do a lot to tackle that stigma head on.”

Susie Hewson, founder and CEO of Natracare, says: “Despite the necessity of period products, in the UK and many other countries, pads, panty liners and tampons have always been taxed as ‘non-essential’ items – which is completely illogical. The recent news to abolish this tax in 2021 comes as a huge victory for us and other campaigners who have been fighting for years to make period products more affordable and to end period poverty in the UK.

This is a gentle reminder to retailers to adjust their prices yet again in stores from January 2021

“We campaigned years ago to get the VAT reduced to the lowest limit of 5% – and so this is a gentle reminder to retailers to adjust their prices yet again in stores from January 2021. As well as this, make sure to inform your customers about the news; we think it’s a victory worth sharing and also a conversation that needs to sustain momentum in-store, as well as out.

“Natracare has been donating period products to food banks and women’s support groups for many years now, but period poverty does still exist. Although this is an important step towards fighting for period equity, there are still countries around the world where the period tax remains as high as 22%. Next, we want to see the tax abolished for all menstruators around the world!”