Victims of slavery can often end up in fear of homelessness and destitution when navigating the benefits system, taking away from the time that they should be focusing on recovery and putting them at real risk of further exploitation.
Parliament has now launched an inquiry into victims of modern slavery and benefits. The inquiry was sparked by a letter from Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti Slavery Commissioner, in April 2016, about the difficulties faced by victims when accessing support and benefits.
The Department of Work and Pensions has confirmed there is currently no specific support for victims of modern slavery unless they are given discretionary leave to remain, so European victims are treated no differently from other Europeans. The inquiry will look at benefits policies and processes, and how support for victims could be affected by Brexit.
This is an important inquiry and we hope it will recommend change to benefits policy and practice, both in the DWP and in local authorities. The state's identification of someone as a victim of slavery does not translate into recognition of their particular needs across government departments.
The Commons Work and Pensions Committee has taken written and oral evidence and will now prepare a report of its findings.
Our written submission to the inquiry sets out examples of some of the problems faced by our clients. Read our full submission here.
All other written submissions can be found here.