CIOB welcomes Government review of Modern Slavery Act

2 August 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has welcomed government plans for an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

The review, which aims to ensure that the legislation keeps step with the crime, will be led by MPs Frank Field and Maria Miller, and Baroness Butler-Sloss.

Efforts to tackle modern slavery in the construction industry have been led by the CIOB, which published a critical report on the extent of the problem earlier this year. 

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CIOB chief executive Chris Blythe said: “We welcome a review of the Modern Slavery Act to strengthen its position as a global-leading piece of legislation and ensure that it maintains pace with new methods of exploitation.

“We would like to see an extension of the Modern Slavery Act across public procurement as this could act as a major catalyst for improved supply chain reporting and reform.

“The CIOB has been at the forefront of helping businesses adapt to the legislation and our modern slavery toolkit has been produced to help construction businesses shape their response as they tackle modern slavery.”

Heavy cost to economy

The Home Office annoucement also included publication of a report on the impact of modern slavery on the economy, estimating that it costs the UK up to £4.3bn a year.

It said each instance of the crime was costing an estimated £330,000, including the cost of support, lost earnings and law enforcement, as well as the physical and emotional harm suffered by individuals who are often exploited over months and sometimes years.

There are currently 600 live modern slavery investigations taking place under the Modern Slavery Act but the Home Office warned that criminal networks are constantly adapting and finding new ways to exploit victims.

Key areas for the review will be to develop an understanding of the nature of modern slavery offences, the provisions around legal access and compensation to victims, and improving the support given to child victims.

Legislation currently requires every business with an annual turnover of £36m and over to publish a statement on its website outlining what it is doing to prevent and tackle modern slavery in its operations and supply chain.

Strengthening the legislation

The review will examine what more can be done to strengthen this legislation and minimise the risk that the goods and services available in the UK are produced through forced labour and slavery.

Victoria Atkins, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said: "The prime minister established this country as a world leader in this fight against modern slavery through our ground-breaking laws and law enforcement approach.

"However, as this awful crime is evolving, it is our responsibility as citizens, businesses and governments to do all we can to stop exploitation. This independent review will help us identify what more we can do to tackle this terrible, global injustice by enhancing the Modern Slavery Act where necessary.

"Chairing the Business Against Slavery Forum last week, it is clear some companies are leading the way but others are falling behind. I’ve asked for this review to look at if we should strengthen our legislation to ensure businesses are taking robust action to eradicate forced labour in their supply chains."

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