Efforts to combat modern slavery in the UK are running out of steam, and recent analysis from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) has found that the number of required companies disclosing anti-slavery measures to the Home Office’s modern slavery registry has almost halved from 15,019 to 8,074 in 2022 analysis by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS).
Under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015, companies with a turnover of over £36 million are required to publish an annual statement outlining the steps taken to address slavery in their supply chains.
However, submitting statements to the registry is voluntary at present, even though more than one-third of organisations believe that modern slavery abuses are likely to occur in the UK, followed by 18% who said China, and fewer than one in ten who said India.
CIPS has called on the government to better enforce transparency rules, as companies have a grace period of six months to produce 2022’s statement. CIPS believes that efforts to submit statements could be declining due to the lack of government pressure.
David Taylor, the Chief Operating Officer for CIPS, stressed that “vulnerable adults and children are exploited every day to produce the goods and services we consume.” He added that “organisations are facing enormous pressures across their supply chains, and in these circumstances, it might be tempting to turn a blind eye to modern slavery and prioritise other challenges. But it is precisely during times of economic hardship that we must be vigilant and keep up our efforts to tackle this issue.”
Furthermore, almost a quarter of the statements submitted last year lacked basic information about the steps being taken, and measurable goals.
The government is expected to introduce a new modern slavery bill to parliament in 2023, which will make submissions to the registry mandatory for qualifying businesses. The bill will also establish an independent anti-slavery commissioner, a role that has been vacant since April 2022.
This issue comes as Rishi Sunak received criticism last week over his flagship immigration measures, which could make it harder for modern slavery and trafficking victims to come forward amid the risk of deportation. The former prime minister, Theresa May, warned that the illegal migration bill would make it more challenging for modern slavery victims to give evidence against traffickers.
The CIPS analysis reveals the urgency of the issue at hand and the need to hold companies to account. We must address modern slavery, especially during times of economic hardship, and ensure that vulnerable individuals are not exploited to produce the goods and services we consume. It’s time for the government to take action and make submissions mandatory for qualifying businesses.
How to write an effective modern slavery statement:
- Carry out a full risk assessment on your business and supply chains, detailing where modern slavery could occur.
- Be transparent: A modern slavery statement should be transparent and honest. Companies should disclose any potential risks, challenges, and incidents of modern slavery within their supply chain. By being open and transparent, companies can demonstrate their commitment to tackling modern slavery. Your modern slavery statement should be clearly visible on the home page of your website.
- Detail company policies and procedures: A modern slavery statement should outline the policies and procedures that the company has in place to address modern slavery in its supply chain. This should include information on how the company assesses suppliers, how it monitors its supply chain, and how it responds to incidents of modern slavery.
- Include measurable goals: A modern slavery statement should include measurable goals that the company has set to address modern slavery in its supply chain.
- Collaborate with suppliers: A modern slavery statement should outline how the company works with its suppliers to address the risks. This could include training suppliers on modern slavery risks, conducting audits of supplier facilities, and promoting best practices.
- Provide regular updates: A modern slavery statement should be updated on a regular basis to reflect any changes in the company’s policies, procedures, or goals. Regular updates help to demonstrate the company’s ongoing commitment to tackling modern slavery in its supply chain.
For more information on how to produce a robust modern slavery risk assessment and statement, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org