Britain’s support system for victims of trafficking is full of ‘inexcusable failures’, a report from the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee has declared.
According to May 2017’s report, after an initial 45-day ‘reflection and recovery’ period in a safe house, the system left many victims destitute and their traffickers unpunished.
MPs on the committee heard from many victims who had faced extreme difficulties in accessing benefits and housing after leaving the safe house, with some left homeless, destitute and afraid. They were left at severe risk of being re-trafficked.
According to Louise Gleich, senior policy officer for human trafficking at charity CARE, these victims are ‘falling through the cracks’. After giving evidence to the committee, she said: ‘It’s clear current support for individuals recognised as human trafficking victims is inadequate and in urgent need of reform. Benefits, such as money for food and housing benefits restore dignity to trafficking victims, help them feel safe and are essential for them to live their day-to-day lives’.
She welcomed the report’s recommendation to provide 12 months of support for victims of human trafficking, claiming this would allow them time to recover and heal in a safe environment and give them the strength to help with any criminal investigations into their perpetrators.
Ms Gleich added, ‘We want victims of human trafficking to integrate into society and lead fulfilling lives, but this can only happen if we make it easy for victims to get the support and help they need’.