Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement 2021/22
It’s estimated there are more people in slavery than at any point in human history. Types of slavery include child trafficking, forced labour, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude. There is no typical victim of slavery, but it is prevalent among the most vulnerable or within minority or socially excluded groups, often “well hidden in plain sight”.
This statement is made in accordance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the Act) which requires organisations like ours, with a turnover of more than £36 million, to publish an annual ‘Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement’. The statement sets out actions we have taken to prevent modern slavery from occurring in our business and supply chain for the financial year ending 31 March 2021.
Abri is a housing association, employing more than 1500 colleagues and we own and manage 38,000 properties across the south and south west of England. The majority of our properties are general needs housing, but we also have sheltered and supported housing, together with key worker accommodation, shared ownership, market rent and private sale properties.
For the purposes of this statement, ‘Abri’ refers to Abri Group Limited and The Swaythling Housing Society Limited. Both organisations are housing providers and Registered Societies under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered with the Regulator of Social Housing.
Abri takes a zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery across all areas of the organisation, as well as in our supply chains. We are committed to ensuring we are not connected to modern slavery in any way and our aim is to ensure that our business always operates in an open and transparent way.
Our commitment is reflected in our Anti-slavery and Human Trafficking Policy, which is available on request.
Our people policies emphasise our commitment to creating an inclusive environment in which colleagues are free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation.
We encourage a positive work-life balance and promote staff wellbeing. Colleagues may raise concerns under our Whistleblowing Policy, Dignity at Work Policy, or Grievance Policy. Colleagues also have access to a free, independent and confidential Employee Assistance Programme.
We maintain robust recruitment processes and our Resourcing Procedure contains all relevant requirements with regards to checking eligibility to work in the UK, employment reference checks, and any additional necessary checks such as DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).
All our colleagues are issued with an employment contract which adheres to relevant UK employment legislation. Our job evaluation process helps to ensure that pay is fair and consistent.
Abri’s procurement activities operate in England. We aim to run our business to the highest standards and support the principles of the Act and the abolition of modern slavery and human trafficking.
Most of our suppliers and contractors are UK based companies but we know there will be some high-risk categories within our supply chain from construction, repair and maintenance and facilities management to some of the materials we purchase from overseas countries, for example, building materials and mobile technology.
Supplier’s adherence to our values
Abri is committed in helping to tackle modern slavery and we seek to secure excellent working relationships with all our contractors, suppliers and other business partners to ensure that they share and work towards the same values we hold.
Abri is committed to taking decisive steps to be more effective in combatting slavery. This statement summarises the steps we have taken in the last 12 months and the approach we will take over the next 12 months.
Steps taken in 2020/2021
- Abri’s Procurement Team, with the support of operational areas, reviewed how we appraise, approve and manage our suppliers and contractors.
- We continued to raise awareness internally, educate and train those that conduct buying activities.
- We analysed, reviewed and defined our suppliers and contractors to understand where our potential risks are.
- We worked with our suppliers and contractors that support our business values and support us in demonstrating adequate controls are in place to monitor the risk at each stage of the supply chain, from source of material through to delivery.
- We refreshed our Code of Conduct which was rolled out to our existing suppliers and contractors and included it in our on-boarding process for new suppliers.
- We continued to monitor, assess and manage risks associated with slavery and human trafficking.
- We continued to make all relevant pre-employment checks prior to employing staff.
- We continued to provide to colleagues a range of wellbeing services, activities and support that promote a positive work-life balance.
- We ensured a high level of understanding of the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking by rolling out mandatory eLearning training for all colleagues.
- In recognition of the increased risk of modern slavery in construction, we established annual training requirements for job roles which interact directly with our building sites and construction partners.
- We added Abri’s modern slavery statement to the Government’s modern slavery statement registry.
Steps to be taken during 2021/2022
We’ve identified seven areas of action:
- Continue raising awareness – review training provision, use technology to allow easy reporting to the Modern Slavery helpline, ensure links are made within Abri to existing related groups e.g. safeguarding
- Take a data-led approach – work with external agencies to explore our data to identify triggers for further investigation
- Supply chain and legal compliance – supplier risk heat map, annual statement review
- Community – create partnerships, link to Abri’s Safer Lives Panel
- Housing – consider allocations, our employment service and Homelessness Prevention Strategy
- Advocacy – liaise with key stakeholders within the housing sector and maintain communication on this topic with our colleagues
- Leadership and co-ordination – regular reporting to Abri’s Executive Board, Board and committees regarding how we are working to combat modern slavery
This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) Modern Slavery Act 2015 and was approved by the Board of Abri Group Ltd.
4 August 2021