Larger local authorities face reporting requirement on steps taken to prevent modern slavery

The Government is to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to require larger local authorities and other public bodies and businesses to take action against modern slavery risks in their supply chains.

All public bodies with a budget of at least £36m will be required to regularly report on what they have done to prevent modern slavery.

There will also be a requirement for such bodies to publish their modern slavery statements on a new digital government reporting service, which will be launched early next year.

Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins said: “Sadly, we know that no sector is immune from the risks of modern slavery which can be hidden in the supply chains of the everyday goods and services we all buy and use.

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“We expect businesses and public bodies to be open about their risks, including where they have found instances of exploitation and to demonstrate how they are taking targeted and sustained action to tackle modern slavery.”

The Government said it will also take forward options for civil penalties for non-compliance with the Modern Slavery Act.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Modern slavery is abhorrent and councils across the country are working hard to help tackle it. This includes trying to eliminate it from their supply chains during the procurement process. This act will help councils to carry out this work.

“It is good that local authorities are included in the new provisions of the Act and their crucial role in combatting modern slavery is recognised. Over two-thirds of ‘in scope’ councils already have modern slavery provisions in place, including voluntarily submitting transparency statements.

“Local government will continue to play its part and work with others to tackle modern slavery in all its forms.”

Mark Smulian