Tesco has today announced it will in effect scrap the so-called ‘tampon tax’ in its stores by reducing the price of women’s sanitary products.

The supermarket has agreed to slash the price of tampons and sanitary towels from today by 5% to cover the cost of the tax, ahead of government proposals to remove VAT on the items.

The move will apply to nearly 100 Tesco own-label and branded products.

Tesco had previously committed to passing on the saving to customers when the government’s proposed removal of VAT came into force, but said it had acted beforehand to help customers with their regular shop.

“For many of our customers, tampons, panty liners and sanitary towels are essential products,” said Michelle McEttrick, Tesco group brand director.

“However, the cost of buying them every month can add up, and for many women and girls it can be a real struggle on top of other essential items.

“That’s why we are reducing the cost of these products by 5%.”

In March 2016, the European Council confirmed that the EU Commission’s initiative would “include proposals for increased flexibility for member states with respect to reduced rates of VAT, which would provide the option to member states of VAT zero rating for sanitary products.”

Superdrug had agreed to offer customers loyalty points in lieu of the VAT, but Tesco is the first chain to implement a cash price cut in stores.

Paula Sherriff, the Labour MP whose campaign led to the government agreeing to abolish VAT on women’s sanitary products, welcomed the move.

She said: “I’m delighted that Tesco is the first supermarket chain to agree the ‘tampon tax cut’ in store.

“It would have been completely unacceptable if abolishing the tampon tax had just led to big businesses boosting their bottom line at the expense of women buying what are essential goods, which is why we pushed the supermarkets to sign up to a deal to pass the cut on. But this goes a step even further, by reducing prices right now - and I hope the other big retailers now consider doing the same.”