Government suppliers must do more on slavery

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More than 40 per cent of the government’s major suppliers fail to meet the basic legal requirements of the UK Modern Slavery Act, according to a survey by sustainability consultancy Sancroft and Tussell, a data provider of government procurement information.

The report examines the performance of suppliers holding public contracts worth £27.5 billion, finding a wide variance in both legal compliance and the quality of reporting from government contractors.

Some 97 per cent of suppliers published an annual Slavery and Human Trafficking statement as required by law, but only 58 per cent of such reports were legally compliant.

Almost half of corporate statements failed to reference due diligence processes to identify and manage the risks of modern slavery across supply chains. Only twelve companies shared their targets to address and measure modern slavery risks.

Sancroft chairman John Gummer, Lord Deben, said: “Overwhelmingly, our analysis suggests that government suppliers should be doing more to address modern slavery. Tackling this issue must be a top priority for all businesses – especially those receiving taxpayers’ money.”

The International Labour Organisation has estimated annual profits from forced labour at $150 billion and believes there are as many as 40 million victims of modern slavery globally. It is likely that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK.

Recommendations in the report include adopting comprehensive modern slavery policies, implementing due diligence processes to identify risks and setting targets to measure progress over time.

Overall the report suggests businesses need a better understanding of the challenges of what is, for the most part, a hidden and complex crime.

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