ABOUT THE BILL
Victims of modern slavery in England and Wales currently have no legal right to support.
The Government provides victims with a limited period of care on a non-statutory basis while the authorities decide if the person is a victim, but then the support ends.
Lord McColl of Dulwich has brought forward a Bill in the House of Lords to put this right. His Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill will give victims in England and Wales a guaranteed right to support during the initial period when the decision about the status is being made, and for a further minimum of 12 months afterwards.
Organisations that support victims have said that a minimum of 12 months of support and permission to be in the UK is the minimum length of time victims need to give them a stable foundation for recovery.
This Bill will protect victims from being vulnerable to re-trafficking, as well as allowing a direct pathway to recovery, ensuring quality of care, and making sure victims’ rights are guaranteed after Brexit.
“The number one thing that should be provided for victims of trafficking is stable housing. I don’t think they should have to work for three months because you need time to adjust to your new circumstances, reintegrate into normal society, recover and learn how to trust people”
"I spent years accepting that what my life had become couldn't and wouldn't ever change. It was impossible for me to speak out and nobody around me took any notice of the signs right in front of them."
CONTACT YOUR MP
Search your postcode to generate a ready-made email to send to your MP.
Your MP is:
Below is a suggestion of what to send to your MP. Simply click the button to copy text, click 'Send Email', and then paste the text in the email body. If you have time feel free to edit this text, as personal details help your email to stand out.
[Northern Ireland text]
Victims of modern slavery are in desperate need of improved access to support. In April this year the Work and Pensions Committee reported that for all its excellent provisions in other areas the Modern Slavery Act “did not secure a pathway for [victims’] recovery”.
The Modern Slavery Act provides no duty to provide support to victims, unlike the laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Currently support is only available through a Home Office funded contract, with no transparent or legal entitlements for victims. All victims across the UK deserve equal rights to support.
What is worse, many victims become most at risk of homelessness and destitution at the point they are officially recognised as victims by the National Referral Mechanism. Just 14 days after being confirmed as a victim of modern slavery with all the trauma that involves, the support that they have received from the state ends. For a victim to access ongoing assistance they must meet other additional criteria to qualify for discretionary leave or welfare benefits. Most do not qualify. The Minister has said that in 2015 only 12% of victims were given discretionary leave.
Leaving victims of modern slavery with no automatic rights to support beyond the 45 days decision-making period makes them incredibly vulnerable to homelessness and re-trafficking. Not only is this bad for victims but it completely undermines attempts to reduce trafficking in the UK.
It also hinders efforts to increase the number of trafficking convictions which continue to be very low. A clear promise of a right to stay in the UK and secure housing and income for basic necessities is essential for victims to feel safe enough to talk to the police and act as witnesses before and during court proceedings.
Conservative Peer, Lord McColl of Dulwich has introduced a much needed private members bill – the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill – to the House of Lords to address these problems. The Bill provides victims with guaranteed support during the NRM and for 12 months afterwards, including special leave to remain enabling them all victims to receive support. (This is the minimum period recommend by victim support charities and also by the Work and Pension Committee.)
The Bill, had its Second Reading on 8th September 2017 and was supported widely by peers from across all parties. Labour MP the Rt. Hon Frank Field MP has confirmed that he will act as the Bill sponsor in the Commons.
Since then, on 26th October, the Government announced plans to offer an additional 45 days of support to modern slavery victims. This is welcome. An extra 45 days in the safe house will give victims who have the right to stay in the UK more time to find housing and apply for benefits and/or other services. But for other victims providing support for just 45 days, without giving them new rights to stay in the UK for a period of recovery afterwards, will not offer them the certainty and stability they need to rebuild their lives. Lord McColl’s Bill, by contrast, gives victims this security.
This is an extremely important issue which should be debated by our elected representatives in Parliament, members of the House of Commons. Please would you write to the Prime Minister asking her to support the Bill and to ensure it is given enough time to be properly debated by MPs. In doing please highlight that Lord McColl’s Bill will enable the Prime Minister to make greater progress towards her objectives of reducing trafficking and increasing conviction rates and will help to showcase to the world meaningful victim support services at the upcoming Commonwealth summit in London in April 2018.
I also ask you to give the Bill your full support when it comes to the House of Commons.