Tampon Tax, Adobe Flash and Brexit: Things which have already changed in 2021

Britain has abolished the tampon tax after leaving the EU.
Britain has abolished the tampon tax after leaving the EU. Credit: AP

People have happily marked the start of a brand new year after the troubles of 2020 and the arrival of 2021 brings with it some significant differences to public life.

Here's a brief rundown on what changed come the stroke of midnight.

'Sexist' tampon tax was axed

The tampon tax has been abolished as VAT on women’s sanitary products was slashed to zero.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak had committed to ending the widely unpopular tax on tampons and pads in the March Budget.

EU law had prevented member states from reducing the rate below 5%, which meant the period products were treated as luxury items and not essentials.

But the zero rate VAT on the period products started on January 1, the first day the laws no longer apply to the UK.

Rishi Sunak has scrapped the tampon tax. Credit: PA

Mr Sunak said: “I’m proud that we are today delivering on our promise to scrap the tampon tax. Sanitary products are essential so it’s right that we do not charge VAT.

“We have already rolled out free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals and this commitment takes us another step closer to making them available and affordable for all women.” Huawei 5G ban

Telecoms firms are now banned from buying Huawei 5G equipment as part of a drive to rid the Chinese company from the UK's web infrastructure.

And in September this year, telecoms providers must stop installing Huawei 5G equipment.

The Telecommunications Security Bill, passed last year, enshrined the legislation into law.

Maintaining old equipment will be allowed. Transgender intolerance included in new Ofcom hate speech guidelines

Ofcom has widened its definition of hate speech to include intolerance of gender reassignment and “political or any other opinion”.

The communications regulator updated its code, which previously required broadcasters to ensure programmes contained no incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion, or nationality.

Ofcom has widened its definition of hate speech to include intolerance of gender reassignment and “political or any other opinion”. Credit: PA

Ofcom now defines hate speech as: “All forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance on the grounds of disability, ethnicity, social origin, sex, gender, gender reassignment, nationality, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, colour, genetic features, language, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth or age."Adobe Flash reaches the end of the road

Adobe Flash Player, the web browser which helped bring early internet animations to life, has been decommissioned.

The browser plug-in helped early creators bring their ideas to life and allowed viewers to stream videos and play games online.

However Adobe will no longer offer security updates for Flash and has told people to uninstall it.

And finally... the UK and EU usher in a new era

Not forgetting the biggest change to life in the UK: the UK has formally left the EU's single market and customs union, as the Brexit transition period has now come to an end.

Four-and-a-half years since the 2016 referendum, the political squabble over Brexit cost two prime ministers their job before Boris Johnson delivered on his 2019 election pledge to "get Brexit done".

Mr Johnson will be hoping to line up more free trade deals with other countries across the globe in 2021.In his video message to mark New Year, the prime minister said the UK was “free to do things differently, and if necessary better, than our friends in the EU” in 2021.