04 Jul 2024

3 things the UK Government needs to do to combat modern slavery

The future of modern slavery policies in the UK could see significant changes with the 2024 election results.

This year’s local elections are being held across more than 230 councils in England and cover district councils, metropolitan boroughs and unitary authorities. Photo Credit: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images.

There are 3 critical actions the UK government needs to take to strengthen its fight against modern slavery.

1. Align the UK Modern Slavery Act (MSA) with international standards

To effectively combat modern slavery, the UK Modern Slavery Act must be updated to align with international standards. It’s essential to introduce mandatory human rights due diligence, similar to the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD).

This would go beyond mandatory reporting, requiring companies to identify, prevent, and mitigate modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains.

The measure would introduce clear penalties for non-compliance and establish corporate liability for failures to prevent modern slavery. The changes would create a level playing field for UK businesses in the global market.

2. Increase funding for victim identification and support

More resources must be allocated to frontline services to identify potential victims of modern slavery. Enhancing long-term support programs for survivors is crucial.

Improved resourcing of the National Referral Mechanism is necessary to ensure quicker and more effective assistance for victims.

Strengthening partnerships between law enforcement, social services, and NGOs is also vital. These partnerships ensure knowledge sharing and holistic responses while prioritising consistent and meaningful engagement with at-risk communities and survivors.

3. Reform migration policies to reduce vulnerability

Reforming migration policies is essential to reducing vulnerability to modern slavery. The government must create safe and legal migration pathways. An important step is to reverse the Safety of Rwanda and Illegal Migration Acts.

Improving support and protection for migrant workers, including access to legal aid and labour rights, is crucial. Strengthening collaboration with source countries to address the root causes of forced migration and displacement is equally important.

Political significance of the 2024 elections globally

The year 2024 is politically significant as countries representing 60% of the global GDP head to the polls.

Changes in political budgets and priorities can impact programs addressing the root causes of modern slavery and support anti-slavery initiatives globally. It’s crucial to remain vigilant and proactive in combating modern slavery.