Last reviewed 28 October 2021

In 2019, the Home Office launched a consultation on proposed measures intended to increase transparency and compliance in the supply chain with regard to strengthening that section of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Under s.54 (Transparency in Supply Chains) of the Act, certain commercial organisations must publish an annual statement setting out the steps they are taking to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains known as a modern slavery statement.

This is seen as a crucial part of the Government’s commitment to end modern slavery by 2030.

The response to the consultation has now been published and can be found here.

“Modern slavery is a complex and often hidden crime that affects every sector and every supply chain differently,” Home Secretary Priti Patel notes. “While some businesses have made significant progress, others have failed to keep pace and have rightly faced serious consequences.”

She confirms that the Government will extend s.54 of the Act to public bodies, following the support of 98% of respondents. As with other measures requiring legislative change, this will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

It will allow public bodies to publish “group statements”, following the support of 71% of respondents. For example, a central government department may publish a group statement with their arm’s length bodies. The Government will publish guidance to help public bodies decide when and how to report as a group.

Finally, it will require public sector modern slavery statements to be signed off by the accounting officer, chief executive or equivalent role and approved by the senior management body, following the support of 92% of respondents.

This aligns with the legal requirements currently applicable to commercial organisation.