The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a group of MPs charged with scrutinising Government efficiency, has slammed the Government over the implementation of its 2014 strategy to tackle modern day slavery.

Labour and Co-operative MP and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier said:

“Victims of modern slavery can face unimaginable horrors but the Government’s good intentions have yet to result in coherent action to help them. Government cannot hope to target resources in an effective manner until it properly understands the scale and nature of the challenge. This crime is complex and a piecemeal approach will not cut it…”

Labour and Co-operative MPs react

Meg Hillier is not the only Labour and Co-operative MP on the PAC. Watch Gareth Snell, MP Stoke-on-Trent Central, as he challenges the implementation of the Government’s policy. He has subsequently urged the Government to take note of the report: “I hope the Government takes note of these recommendations to ensure that this important legislation is as effective as it should be. ”

And Alex Norris MP, passionate anti-slavery campaigner, adds: “I’m pleased the PAC has issued such a thoughtful report with recommendations, that if listened to, will make a material difference to ensure that we as a country are as well equipped as possible in the fight against modern slavery.”

Reducing Modern Slavery inquiry

The report is a clarion call for Government to wake up and act decisively on modern day slavery and makes seven clear and implementable recommendations which would clamp down on these heinous crimes, and importantly help the victims. Here we focus on just three of the hard-hitting recommendations: monitoring progress, the lack of support for victims, and business compliance.

No means of monitoring progress

The PAC conclude that the Home Office has no means of monitoring progress or knowing if its Modern Slavery Strategy is working and achieving value for money. They have no official estimation of prevalence, has no measurements or targets, does not know how much (or little) money is spent on tackling the issue. This slapdash approach reinforces the notion that the Conservative Government is not taking the issue seriously.

Lack of support for victims

Focusing on the lack of support for victims, the MPs found that it was taking far too long for them to receive National Referral Mechanism decisions which causes anxiety and ramped up the cost of support packages. Shockingly, the Home Office has not put in place a care standard or robust inspection regime to check the quality of care and support provided in safe houses.  Standards promised in 2017 will not be in place until the new care contract is let in 2020.

Hands-off approach to business compliance

MPs were also critical of the Government’s hands-off approach to businesses’ compliance with its transparency in supply chains legislation is not working. The Modern Day Slavery Act 2015 requires companies with a turnover of more than £36m to produce a statement on slavery and trafficking each year setting out the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that modern slavery is not taking place in their business or supply chain (or stating that they have not taken action). However, the Government has not compiled a database of companies which fall into that category and does not monitor the publication of the statements, relying on two NGO-run registries.

In the absence of action from the Government, the Co-operative Party is encouraging local authorities to sign up to our Charter on modern day slavery which commits councils the strengthening their procurement policies and demanding the highest standards from their suppliers.