"I will focus chiefly on the support that is available to victims of trafficking to help prevent them from being left homeless, destitute and at risk of being re-trafficked. I support the proposal that the Government should adopt the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill.
Mention was made of the proposal to extend the move-on period from 14 days to 45 days. At the moment, that period is inadequate. It does not give people time to establish stable building blocks for their future. It is not long enough for non-UK nationals to apply for and be granted discretionary leave to remain, which gives victims access to housing benefit and other services. Extending that period to 12 months and offering victims accommodation and financial and other support, according to their needs, would enable victims to establish much more secure futures.
I know that the Government are concerned that that might prevent the removal of foreign criminals, but the Bill makes an exception for sexual or violent offenders who pose a genuine, present and serious risk to members of the public. The Government may also be concerned about cost, but the number of eligible victims each year would be very low. In 2016, just 1,133 people were confirmed as victims of trafficking with a positive conclusive grounds decision, so that proposal is unlikely to have a great impact on immigration.
Another concern is that people may self-identify as enslaved, but it is accepted that the opposite is ordinarily the case. Victims are often reluctant to come forward, for fear of retribution by their traffickers or fear of the authorities, or due to a perceived lack of long-term protection, which the Bill would address. In addition, victims cannot refer themselves to the NRM—that can be done only by a designated first responder organisation.
Finally, the proposal that the Government should offer six-month drop-in support, although positive, is inadequate. That period needs to be longer so that people can establish their futures."