The Government estimates that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK, originating from around the world and the UK itself.
Published in April 2017, this Work and Pensions Committee report (pdf) aims to develop stage two of the UK’s counter-slavery policy.
The Committee says failures in the UK’s system for dealing with modern slavery are allowing the “inexcusable” scenario of victims reduced to destitution while their abusers go free because they are not adequately supported to testify against them.
Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
‘The incoming Government must conduct an urgent review of our national response and put in place some basic minimum safeguards, status, that will allow a person to begin to rebuild a life, testify against their abuser if they feel able, and above all, be protected from the unimaginable but real possibility of falling victim again.’
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was a pioneering piece of legislation that proved the UK’s commitment to ending modern slavery. The Act established new protections for recognised victims of slavery – but did not secure a pathway for their recovery
In October 2016, the Work and Pensions Committee announced an inquiry into victims of modern slavery. The deadline for submissions was 11 December 2016.
The inquiry asked:
- What is DWP’s role in providing support to recognised victims of modern slavery (both EU/EEA national and non EU/EEA nationals)?
- How effective is this support and what improvements could be made?
- What guidance and training is there for frontline DWP staff in contact with victims of modern slavery and how does this compare with other with other frontline areas, e.g. NHS?
- What is the impact on victims of modern slavery when they cannot access support and benefits?
- What are the costs to the state of supporting victims, including costs if victims become homeless and destitute?
- What are the potential impacts of Brexit on the support provided to victims (both EU/EEA national and non EU/EEA nationals)?
Due to the general election on 8 June 2017 the Committee closed this inquiry early. Government responses may be published in the next Parliament.