Rishi Sunak, United Kingdom's first Indian-origin finance minister, is reportedly set to scrap an unpopular tax on women's sanitary products as well as announce supporting resources to the National Health Service to battle COVID-19 in the UK’s post-Brexit Budget on Wednesday.
The 5 per cent rate of VAT on sanitary products — referred to as the "tampon tax" — will be abolished from January 2021, according to UK media reports.
A European Union (EU) directive meant the rate could not fall below 5 per cent while the UK remained in the economic bloc's customs union. However the UK is now free to change it as a non-member at the end of the Brexit transition period in December.
It will be part of a number of manifesto pledges made by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that his new neighbour at No 11 Downing Street, Sunak, is likely to include in his budget.
Sunak also said that the NHS will get "whatever resources it needs" to cope with the coronavirus epidemic.
The Chancellor has pledged to address the outbreak in his first Budget and said the impact of the virus on business "could be significant, but for a temporary period of time".
With respect to the sanitary tax, legislation has already been through Parliament to ensure the change can be made. The UK Treasury department estimates the move will save the average woman nearly GBP 40 over her lifetime, with a cut of 7p on a pack of 20 tampons and 5p on 12 pads.
The budget will also see Sunak, the 39-year-old son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, commit to new laws designed to ensure that millions of people have access to cash through enough cash points as digital payments catch on.