Period Pants tax cut after 5-year battle: A landmark victory for women’s health
In a historic win for women’s health and small businesses, Ruby Raut, the founder of WUKA, has successfully led the charge to abolish the 20% VAT tax on period pants.
The victory comes after five years of relentless campaigning under the “Axe The Period Pants Tax” initiative, marking a significant step towards fair and equitable policies surrounding menstrual hygiene products.
As reported by the BBC yesterday, the groundbreaking announcement is set to be made in the Autumn statement tomorrow, highlighting the impact of Ruby Raut’s unwavering advocacy and tireless efforts. Raut’s campaign not only focuses on women’s health but also addresses the challenges faced by small independent businesses in absorbing the hefty VAT cost.
Ruby Raut, the force behind the campaign, expressed her elation at the achievement, stating, “This victory is more than just abolishing a tax; it’s acknowledging the importance of women’s health and giving women the choice to choose healthier, sustainable menstrual products. The period pant tax was a symbol of inequality, and its removal is a step towards a more just and inclusive society.”
Paving the way for change
The victory comes after a long and arduous journey. In 2017, Ruby Raut launched WUKA, the first period pants in the UK, setting the stage for a revolution in menstrual hygiene. The subsequent years saw Raut’s dedicated efforts to challenge the classification of period pants, culminating in the 20% VAT tax.
In 2018, after reaching a threshold, Raut wrote to HMRC, seeking clarification on the classification of period underwear as a menstrual product. Despite a government response in 2019 categorising period pants as clothing subject to a 20% VAT, Raut persisted.
Various petitions were launched, with the 2020 petition gaining substantial attention, securing over 18,000 signatures and prompting a response from the government. The response cited difficulties in policing the scope of relief and the potential for revenue reduction as reasons to maintain the tax.
Undeterred, the campaign gained momentum in 2021, joining forces with activist and MP Daisy Cooper, Sarah Onley, Ella Dasih, Chella Quint, and Kate Levine. The combined efforts resulted in a renewed petition, reaching nearly 7,000 signatures. In 2023, a new petition was launched, garnering over 37,000 signatures and attracting major retailers like M&S to join the cause.
Behind the scenes, Ruby Raut met with PM Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, taking the campaign to the heart of government. The subsequent syndication of the campaign and the commitment of major retailers, including Tesco, to absorb the 20% VAT cost triggered a price war, solidifying the impact of the Axe The Period Pants Tax movement.
A pioneer in sustainable menstrual products
Founded in 2017, WUKA (Wake Up Kick Ass) is the first reusable period underwear designed in the UK to replace disposables. Made from sustainable materials, WUKA has proven its environmental impact, with each pair replacing 200 disposables and achieving carbon neutrality.
WUKA’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond its products, as evidenced by its B Corp certification in 2023. The brand’s innovative approach has saved over 2 billion tampons from ending up in landfills and prevented an estimated 3,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Ruby Raut, the Nepalese-born entrepreneur behind WUKA, transformed her personal experiences and research into a mission to make menstruation and menopause positive, taboo-free, and environmentally friendly. From her kitchen table to an award-winning enterprise, Raut’s dedication has not only revolutionised the menstrual hygiene industry but has also played a pivotal role in dismantling barriers and achieving policy change.
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