UK firms must act to ensure supply chains are slavery free

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
16 October 2014

UK big businesses will have to publicly state each year what action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free, the Home Office (HO) has announced.

The measure, weclomed by David Noble, Group CEO, CIPS, will be included in the Modern Slavery Bill, currently going through parliament, and will affect firms providing goods or services, by going “further than any similar legislation in the world by applying to businesses regardless of the nature of a company or what it supplies”.

The threshold for the size of company to which the requirement will apply has yet to be set and a consultation will take place “to ensure the system is both fair and robust”.

The HO also said statutory guidance will be produced “setting out the kinds of information that might be disclosed to help companies comply”.

Karen Bradley, minister for modern slavery and organised crime, said: “The fact that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history is shameful. We all have a responsibility to stamp out this evil trade and this world-leading measure calls on businesses to play their part.

“There are already many companies showing a lead and taking action. Greater transparency will give customers, campaigners and shareholders the information they need to hold all big business to account while also supporting companies to do the right thing.”

Praising the move, Noble said: "CIPS is delighted to hear the news from Karen Bradley MP regarding the measure to re-introduce supply chain reporting into the Modern Slavery Bill. The importance and value of good management of supply chains cannot be underestimated in these discussions and the profession has a huge role to play.

“This move will firmly underpin the work CIPS has been doing to ensure we have greater accountability and capability within the profession – something we firmly believe can happen when the concept of a professional licence is widely accepted for procurement and supply professionals."

The move follows research carried out by The Salvation Army, which has held a contract with the government since 2011 to support trafficking victims, that shows 889 people were helped in the year to June 2014, up 62 per cent year on year. Some 42 per cent of victims, the biggest proportion, had suffered labour exploitation. The nationality most commonly trafficked was Albanian, followed by Nigerian and Romanian.

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