On 18 September 2019 the Cabinet Office announced new steps to ensure government supply chains are free from modern slavery, an umbrella term that encompasses the offences of slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. The new measures were previously mentioned in a July 2019 consultation by the Home Office (see Legal update, Home Office responds to review of Modern Slavery Act and consults on supply chain transparency). They include:
- New guidance for government commercial practitioners to help identify and manage modern slavery risks in both existing contracts and new procurement activity.
- A new assessment tool for government departments to use with their suppliers to identify modern slavery risks.
- A partnership with the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply to offer online training to commercial officials across government on how to identify and report modern slavery.
The government has previously committed to voluntarily publishing a Modern Slavery Statement in December 2019, to mirror the requirements on businesses to publish statements under Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The statement will set out the actions taken, and plans in place, to identify, tackle and prevent modern slavery in central government supply chains. In addition, from 2021 onwards, individual Ministerial departments will publish their own individual annual statements. The Home Office consultation (which closed on 17 September 2019) set out the government’s proposed approach to public sector reporting and sought feedback on it.