The UK Government tackles modern slavery


The UK Government has released new tough measures to tackle modern slavery in supply chains.

The government’s response to the transparency in supply chains consultation sets out new measures to hold businesses and public bodies accountable for tackling modern slavery.


What is the Modern Slavery Act?

According to the UK government, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 made Britain the first country in the world to require large businesses to report on how they prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.

Five years later, in March 2020 the UK government published the world’s first Government Modern Slavery Statement, setting out the steps taken to eradicate modern slavery from its supply chains on around £50 billion of its annual spending.


New measures to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act

On the 22 September, the government introduced new measures to ensure that large businesses and public bodies tackle modern slavery risks in supply chains.

On the government website, it states that:

“The government is committed to harnessing the spending power of the UK’s public sector, accounting for around £250 billion of spend, to ensure responsible practices in supply chains and bring it in line with businesses…

“Moving forward, public bodies which have a budget of £36 million or more, including local authorities in England and Wales, will be required to regularly report on the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their supply chains.”

Moving forward, the government has committed to mandating the key topics that modern slavery statements must cover (e.g. due diligence to risk assessment), to encourage suppliers to be more transparent about the work they are doing to ensure ethics and social value are part of the procurement process.

Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said:

“Sadly, we know that no sector is immune from the risks of modern slavery, which can be hidden in the supply chains of the everyday goods and services we all buy and use.

We expect businesses and public bodies to be open about their risks, including where they have found instances of exploitation and to demonstrate how they are taking targeted and sustained action to tackle modern slavery.”


Tackling modern slavery within the supply chain

It’s important that organisations consider not only their practices, but also their entire supply chain, and how each company within it addresses – or does not address – moral issues such as modern slavery and corruption.

Like social value, these are issues that will increasingly drive buyers’ decisions whether to work with businesses. Ensuring a robust and ethical supply chain also extends to business concerns such as paying suppliers promptly or working with SMEs, who can be crucial to local economies. While these issues may not be as immediately obvious to end-users, they are important to buyers,

Even if a company is ensuring good practice themselves, their supply chain may involve an organisation engaged in unethical working practices. These issues are as relevant to exclusively UK-based supply chains as those that work internationally – for example, the government estimates around 13,000 people are working in slavery-like conditions in the UK.


Are you delivering on social value?

For suppliers looking to win more business in the public sector, positioning themselves as able to deliver on social value will help to set them apart from other potential competitors. It’s therefore crucial that suppliers emphasise this element in their responses to tenders to help buyers take notice of them.

In response to the latest guidance on modern slavery, Susan Staley, Head of Digital Marketing, BiP Solutions said:

“We recommended to suppliers that they need to ensure they are set up to deliver on demonstrating social value in their bid responses to remain relevant, stand out, and therefore gain potential competitive advantage.”

You can learn more about social value by registering for our “What is Social Value & is it Deliverable?” webinar.

The webinar which is happening on October 22 2020 at 11 AM will discuss social value and its synonyms, using examples, discussing the challenges and opportunities it provides for suppliers and suggesting practical steps that will help differentiate your bids from your competitors.

Register here


How can Tracker help?

Tracker offers access to more tender alerts than any other comparable solution in its respective field. Access to details of previous contracts through features like Spend Analysis and Archive Data can help businesses to understand what buyers are spending, where and who they have done business with before – allowing for a better understanding of what social value elements you can emphasise to fit in with buyer’s requirements or to set yourself apart from other suppliers. Offering unparalleled oversight of the marketplace, these two solutions will give suppliers all the information they need to understand the public contracts landscape in depth – and thus what to emphasise in their tender responses.

Learn more about Tracker.

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