Government announces consultation to tackle slavery in supply chains


The Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime Karen Bradley has announced the launch of a consultation with businesses to encourage transparency in supply chains.

Shoppers may be hunting for a bargain but, unbeknown to them, the cheap products they find could be the result of modern slavery.

Of the 35m people estimated by the Global Slavery Index to be enslaved worldwide, the majority are victims of exploitation in activities such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture.

Under the Modern Slavery Bill, large companies will for the first time have a legal duty to disclose to the public the steps they have taken to ensure modern slavery does not have a place in their business – from the shop floor to the factory floor, anywhere in the world. This is the latest measure introduced by the government to strengthen the landmark provision in the Modern Slavery Bill.

Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime, Karen Bradley, said: “I am determined to ensure that UK supply chains are not being infiltrated by modern slavery.

“Supply chains are often extremely long, complex and cross international borders. Even services provided in the UK can involve outsourced labour from across the globe.”

The consultation provides interested parties with the opportunity to have their say on what size of business this new requirement should apply to and what the accompanying statutory guidance for businesses should cover.

The government wants to gather a wide range of evidence so that it can determine a size threshold that is fair, workable and robust. This world leading measure goes further than any similar legislation in other countries by applying to businesses regardless of the nature of a company or what it supplies.

Programme Coordinator for the Stronger Together initiative, which works with businesses to tackle labour exploitation, David Camp, said: “We welcome this consultation. Responsible businesses, such as the Stronger Together project sponsors, called for there to be a supply chain transparency element to the Modern Slavery Bill and we are pleased the government listened.

“Stronger Together equips business with pragmatic guidance and free resources to tackle slavery and hidden exploitation in supply chains.  Business will play a fundamental role in the years ahead in eliminating global slavery. This consultation is an important building block in this process and we commend business to respond.”

The Modern Slavery Bill, published in June 2014 here, will be amongst the first Acts specifically tackling modern slavery in the world. The Bill is now being scrutinised by Parliament with the intention that it is made law before the General Election. It will give law enforcement the tools to tackle modern slavery, ensure that perpetrators can receive suitably severe sentences for these appalling crimes, introduce an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, enhance support and protection for victims, and encourage businesses to do more to eliminate modern slavery from their global supply chains.