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Citizens Advice statement on modern slavery and trafficking

This statement sets out Citizens Advice’s actions for the financial year ended 31 March 2020 to understand the potential modern slavery risks related to its activities and to put in place steps that are aimed at ensuring that there is no slavery or human trafficking in our own business - and that in so far as possible, our suppliers hold the same ethos.

Citizens Advice is a major UK voluntary sector organisation that provides free, confidential and independent advice to help people overcome their problems. We are a network of around 270 independent local charities across England and Wales, and our services are provided by over 28,000 trained volunteers and 7,000 paid staff. We are a voice for our clients and consumers on the issues that matter to them. This statement is made on behalf of the national charity, formally known as the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

As an organisation we value diversity, champion equality and actively challenge discrimination. We recognise the importance of our role in taking a robust approach to the global problem of slavery and human trafficking. We helped 2.7 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat last year. This included many people in vulnerable situations. We have collaborated with the Human Trafficking Foundation to ensure that our advisers understand what modern slavery and human trafficking are, and that they are alert to the key warning signs in adults and children. We offer digital advice to help people understand whether they or someone they know may have been a victim of human trafficking, to signpost them to specialist support organisations, and we explain what might happen if they make a police report.

We are absolutely committed to preventing slavery and human trafficking in our corporate activities, and to ensuring that users of our services and suppliers within our supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.  In the last year we updated our standard terms and conditions to include clauses relating to modern slavery. These clauses and our terms will be regularly reviewed to ensure they stay up to date and relevant. In contracts with suppliers not subject to our standard terms and conditions we also looked to include clauses relating to modern slavery.

We recognise that there is more we can do as an organisation and so will undertake a number of new initiatives in the next year.  We will analyse our spend to identify the categories and suppliers that operate in high risk areas for modern slavery. This will allow us to work with suppliers on a targeted basis to focus on those that operate in high risk industries. An example of this is that we are reviewing our suppliers for products such as tea and coffee in our workplace, to ensure we use Fair Trade products where possible.

In the coming year we will develop a Supplier Code of Conduct which will set out the minimum ethical standards we expect all our suppliers to meet in order to work with us, this will include a section on modern slavery.  We will look to sign up our major suppliers and those identified as operating in high risk areas of modern slavery to the Code of Conduct in the next year.

We will continue to work with other organisations, particularly other charities to share ideas and best practice on how to combat modern slavery and to explore opportunities to collaborate to help do this.

Our national organisational policies with direct relevance to modern slavery include safeguarding, whistleblowing, complaints, dignity at work, and procurement. Neither our own staff, who are largely directly employed, nor our national Witness Service volunteers are in any category which is generally seen to be vulnerable to modern slavery in the UK.

This statement is made voluntarily, in support of the principles of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. It has been approved by the Citizens Advice trustee board and signed by the Chief Executive on their behalf.

Dame Gillian Guy

Chief Executive

31 March 2020