To support our partners to better understand how COVID-19 may impact modern slavery, the Partnership developed a summary outlining three main potential impacts modern slavery.
Drawing on our shared experience and knowledge, SYMSP suggest these broad impacts may include:
Increased risks for those already in situations of modern slavery
- Restriction of movement.
- Increased isolation for victims.
- Movement of victims into different sectors where there is an increased demand.
- Exploitation occurring in unsafe conditions.
- Increased vulnerability – homelessness, debt bondage.
Changes in services and possibility of intervention
- Reduction of face-to-face services leading to a reduction in opportunities to intervene.
- Barriers to accessing services – as things moved online.
- Key services move attention away from modern slavery to focus on COVID-19.
- Large number of people relying on government services may disappear once this ends.
Increased vulnerability leading to more exploitation
- Increased financial insecurity – people may be more willing to accept precarious and potentially exploitative work.
- People may be unable to pay bills and therefore more likely to accrue debt, leaving them at-risk of exploitation.
- Businesses/consumers looking to cut costs – turning to cheaper services which may be using exploited workers.
- Reduction in availability of work – employees may feel unable to complain/whistle blow.
It’s widely agreed that the full impacts of COVID-19 on modern slavery will not be fully understood for a while, but we continue to work in partnership.