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UK slashes aid for victims of modern slavery
February 09, 2018
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LONDON: Britain is halving the financial support it gives potential victims of modern slavery, in a move campaigners say endangers survivors and belies claims the country is leading efforts to eradicate the crime.

People who say they have been enslaved can enter the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and get counselling, housing and a weekly stipend of 65 pounds ($90) while the government decides whether or not to recognise them as victims.

Yet the allowance - which is expected to cover costs including food, transport and medication - is being cut by almost half to 38 pounds ($53) per week, according to the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG), a group of charities.

A spokesman for the Home Office (interior ministry) said potential slavery victims would receive the same allowance as asylum seekers as they have “similar essential living needs.”

“We know that traffickers seek out people who are struggling to keep their heads above water,” said Caroline Robinson, director of Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX).

“This cut is a gift to all those would-be exploiters,” Robinson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

Activists and law enforcement have long criticised the NRM, saying it does not guarantee long-term support for survivors, and leaves many scared to seek help for fear of deportation.

The government in October announced an overhaul to the system for potential slavery victims, with a raft of changes including extra shelter and support, and drop-in services.

Yet pledging to improve care while cutting aid is “one step forward, two steps back,” according to Anna Sereni of the ATMG.


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