Slavery: Victims

Home Office written question – answered on 9th June 2020.

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Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Labour, Swansea East

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the £1.73 million of funding for safe accommodation for victims of modern slavery announced by the Government on 2 May 2020, for what reasons potential victims under the National Referral Mechanism that are in receipt of outreach and asylum support have been notified that they will not longer receive support from that service.

Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Labour, Swansea East

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the £1.73 million of funding for safe accommodation for victims of modern slavery announced by the Government on 2 May 2020, whether recovery needs assessments are being undertaken to move on potential victims in National Referral Mechanism scheme.

Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Labour, Swansea East

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who has responsibility for (a) policy development and (b) planning for the (i) provision of victim support for people in the National Referral Mechanism during the covid-19 outbreak, (ii) allocation of resources to ensure the availability of safe and appropriate support and (iii) operational delivery of that support.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The safety and security of those supported through the modern slavery Victim Care Contract (VCC) is a top priority for government. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our contingency planning continues to focus on ensuring victims of modern slavery can access the essential services and support they need. We have secured £1.73 million of the funding for charities, announced by the Chancellor last month, to provide emergency support to victims of modern slavery who have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The first question makes reference to asylum services being withdrawn – it should be noted that the asylum system operates independently of the National Referral Mechanism, and therefore a negative Conclusive Grounds decision would have no immediate bearing on an individual’s asylum support provision. The asylum system would notify the individual of any subsequent decisions made in relation to their asylum support and/or asylum claim.

There are two main scenarios under which victims in outreach may be required to leave VCC support. Victims in outreach who receive a positive Conclusive Grounds will receive at least a further 45 calendar days of move-on support during which the support provider will help the victim transition out of support. The point at which a victim will be exited from VCC support will be determined through a Recovery Needs Assessment (RNA) conducted in accordance with the RNA process guidance. Victims in outreach who receive a negative Conclusive Grounds decision, determining them not to be a victim of modern slavery, receive 9 working days of move-on support. An extension request may be made where an individual requires a longer period to exit support safely and securely.

With reference to the second question, the RNA process informs tailored move on plans to help confirmed victims (those with a positive conclusive grounds decision) transition out of the VCC and back into the community where appropriate. These assessments continue to be undertaken during COVID-19. The assessment considers the availability of alternative, and often more sustainable, support services and victims only begin a move-on process if it is suitable for them to do so, in line with their recovery needs. The wider impact of Covid-19 on access to alternative services is considered when conducting the Recovery Needs Assessment.

The third question seeks clarification on policy and operational responsibility for victims of modern slavery during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Home Office is responsible for developing policy and for ensuring the development of robust contingency plans to ensure the safety of victims during this crisis. The Salvation Army, as the Prime Contractor of the VCC, has operational responsibility to ensure the delivery of these plans. We are working closely with The Salvation Army to ensure that victims are receiving the support they need, and we will continue to review policy and processes to maintain the services to victims during these uncertain times.

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