The LGA started a new programme of work on this issue in January 2017 when the then Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland OBE, met the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board. Members agreed that councils could play a key role in tackling modern slavery but highlighted that there was a lack of national guidance to draw from, as well as a lack of awareness of modern slavery and council’s role.
- Modern slavery affects both rural and urban areas. It can happen on the streets we live in, in the communities we are part of, and in the businesses we use.
- Councils have a responsibility to tackle modern slavery in their communities and beyond, both as first responders to instances of modern slavery and as part of their procurement processes.
- The LGA has worked to raise awareness within authorities, and among the general public, of the risk modern slavery poses for our communities. This includes ensuring council officers understand how their work can disrupt modern slavery and are aware of their duties with regard to reporting and safeguarding.
- According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), nearly 800 National Referral Mechanism (NRM) referrals for 2017 and early 2018 of potential modern slavery victims were made by local authorities.
- We know that work to tackle modern slavery has not developed in a uniform way across all local authorities or wider local partnerships. To address any ambiguities faced by councils the Government should publish the statutory guidance on responding to modern slavery.
- Many local authority supported cases go on to get no recourse to public funds (NRPF) status. Given the number of challenges, including the cost, that this poses for councils, the Government should review the use of NRPF as a whole.
- We are becoming increasingly concerned with the threat of county lines gangs to, often, the most vulnerable in our society. Councils need guaranteed long-term funding to ensure they can consistently protect and care for all children and young people, but especially those who may not have anybody else looking after them.
- Funding could become a significant barrier to being able to take forward further work on modern slavery. Councils have efficiently managed a reduction in core funding from central government of nearly £16 billion since 2010 through innovation, scale-backs and the decommissioning of non-statutory services.
- We now face a £7.8 billion funding gap by 2025. This impacts a wide range of services including safeguarding, community safety, housing and regulation, all of which pay a role in tackling modern slavery.