Modern slavery in social care

Following on from our recent training blog, which included an update on Excel’s modern slavery & human trafficking workshop, we want to shed light on the alarming surge of modern slavery in the UK’s social care sector. This has caught the attention of authorities as immigration rules were relaxed to address staffing shortages and have led to a growing wave of exploitation and mistreatment.

The escalating crisis in social care

Unseen, a Bristol-based anti-slavery charity, reported at least 800 potential victims of modern slavery in 2023 based on calls to its helpline, an increase of over 1,100% on the 63 in 2021. The rise follows the Home Office's decision to add care workers to the shortage occupation list in 2022.

Workers in care homes or private residences have reported appalling conditions, including sleeping in cold, cramped rooms, receiving only a fraction of their rightful pay, and paying exorbitant fees to agents for visa costs.

Calls for increased vigilance

Campaigners and care groups have labelled the escalating abuse across the UK as "shocking," "outrageous," and "utterly shameful." There are mounting calls for local councils and the NHS to conduct more stringent checks on private care firms employing migrant workers. The Government-appointed independent anti-slavery commissioner, Eleanor Lyons, says she is “deeply concerned about the risk of exploitation and modern slavery for workers in the adult social care sector, particularly those from overseas who have come to the UK on short-term visas”.

Moving forward

There is a clear need to address modern slavery and human trafficking in the social care sector, including collaborative efforts between councils, the NHS and care operators. There should be transparency and ethical practices within the care industry, and a demand for evidence from private care firms employing migrant workers regarding pay, working hours, accommodation, and fees.

Care workers, whether from the UK or overseas, should be treated with dignity and not subjected to exploitation and there should be bigger support efforts to eliminate the scourge of modern slavery from the social care market.

Excel’s modern slavery and human trafficking workshop, in which successful delegates receive a certificate in ‘Modern slavery & human trafficking awareness’ issued by CILEx, educates delegates on spotting the signs of modern slavery including:

  • Human trafficking
  • Forms of exploitation
  • Domestic slavery
  • Signs of domestic servitude
  • Recognising properties that harvest cannabis
  • Bonded labour
  • Types of businesses which may use forced labour
  • Signs that a business may be using modern slavery victims
  • Forced marriage
  • Range of abuse that victims may be subject to

Peterborough City Council recently completed the workshop. Alistair Townsend, Head of Service Delivery at Peterborough City Council said, “The training that was offered as part of the tender is very useful and it is bespoke, particularly vulnerability and modern slavery. It would be very difficult for Peterborough CC to source such industry-specific training anywhere else."

For more information on this workshop, please contact us here or email us.

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