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Government urged to improve fight against modern slavery

4 November 2021

The government has been urged to improve its work in the fight against modern slavery following a review by an independent aid watchdog which scored the work ‘Amber/Red’ on its traffic light scale. Amber/Red is defined by the watchdog, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), as meaning ‘unsatisfactory achievement in most areas, with some positive elements’.

Tackling modern slavery

The Sub-Committee's report expressed concern about how effective the UK’s work on tackling modern slavery had been. It found there had been limited long-term impact from this work, that the UK’s interventions did not always take advantage of existing international interventions in the area and that the government could do more for survivors of modern slavery.

However, the Sub-Committee welcomed the fact that the government was now seeking to integrate survivors’ voices more effectively into its work and said that it was optimistic about the commitments to tackle modern slavery set out in the rich country G7 Summit communiqué following its meeting in Cornwall in June 2021.


The recommendations from the Sub-Committee on the work of ICAI included that the government should:

  • set out what its spending will be on programmes to tackle modern slavery in 2021-22 and communicate this clearly to organisations managing these programmes;
  • strengthen its partnerships with the private sector on modern slavery and takes steps to align overseas aid with private sector efforts to tackle slavery;
  • incorporate its work on modern slavery into its other development programmes. For example, aspects of work on the United Nations sustainable development goals, which could address some of the causes of modern slavery, might have a slavery focus and thus help ‘mainstream’ efforts to tackle modern slavery; and
  • use the experiences of survivors to inform its work and not just treat survivors as victims. It should consult with other governments on the best ways they have worked with survivors in order to build on those governments’ experiences.

The Chair of the Sub-Committee on the work of ICAI, Theo Clarke MP said:

“This report highlights our concerns about how effective the UK’s programmes against modern slavery have been. But we can take heart that the government fully backs a crucial recommendation in ICAI’s review – bringing the voices of survivors of modern slavery into the centre of its work.

“Survivors are not just victims. I am particularly pleased that the government is exploring how to have survivors as advisers to ministers on how interventions against this terrible exploitation of human beings can be brought to an end”.

Further information

Image: Parliamentary Copyright