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30 Mar 2024

By Shanti Das, The Guardian (UK)

UK: Labour abuse watchdog's funding cut despite rise in rights abuse, incl. 400% increase in care sector since launch of post-Brexit recruitment scheme

“‘If you want to abuse your workers, that’s fine’: UK modern slavery watchdog’s funding cut”

Britain’s labour abuse watchdog has had its funding cut by the Home Office despite a dramatic surge in exploitation in the care sector.

The budget of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has been set at £6.25m for 2024-25 compared with £7.7m last year, official figures show.

It means the agency’s budget has fallen by almost £2m in real terms compared with five years ago, once inflation is factored in.

The reduction comes amid what charities have called a “national scandal” in adult social care, with modern slavery helplines recording a surge in calls and the GLAA itself seeing a 400% rise in allegations since the launch of a post-Brexit scheme to recruit care workers from abroad

Beyond adult social care abuses, the agency is underresourced to deal with problems in other high-risk sectors, Cain said. It runs a licensing scheme in four sectors including agriculture and horticulture, with companies supplying staff to UK businesses in those sectors subject to inspections…

it has only 21 inspectors to oversee sectors with more than 520,000 workers…

The Home Office did not say why the GLAA’s budget had fallen in recent years rather than increasing to cope with the growing demand…