This statement is designed to satisfy the requirements of Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the “Act”), by setting out the approach of the British Council to modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and labour rights violations in its supply chains. 

We continue to take our responsibility to prevent modern slavery and trafficking within our supply chain seriously.

Our status, operations, and supply chain

  • The British Council is registered as a charity under registration numbers 209131 (England and Wales) and SC037733 (Scotland) and is incorporated by Royal Charter.
  • We work in over 100 countries, connecting millions of people with the United Kingdom through programmes and services in the English language, the arts and education.
  • This statement relates to the British Council and its subsidiary entities.
  • The British Council has a diverse and substantial supply chain, with procurement carried out both centrally and within local markets across the globe and is guided by its corporate policies. 

Current Procurement policy and processes

  • The British Council follows UK public sector procurement legislation and ensures that all potential and incumbent suppliers are dealt with professionally, fairly and ethically and that we uphold the principles of sustainable procurement at all times.  Our procedures also comply with UK law and address environmental management, health and safety and equality legislation. 
  • Suppliers are evaluated on criteria including their approach to risk; environmental sustainability; health and safety; modern slavery and safeguarding.
  • We require our suppliers to maintain their standards while supplying us.  We have a variety of channels both internally and externally facing which facilitate the raising of concerns over supplier behaviour.

Identifying and Managing Risk

  • With over 44,000 global suppliers, delivering a wide range of goods and services, we use a structured approach to ensure that the high-risk categories and countries are identified, and that relevant and proportionate due diligence is carried out to ensure that risk can be identified and appropriately managed.
  • British Council has used publicly available international data on modern slavery and analysed spend to identify our highest risk categories of spend as defined below.

-  Hotels, venues, and events services.

-  Building operations (including security, cleaning, catering, maintenance, gardening); and

-  Temporary labour providers.

  • As part of the British Council’s due diligence process, the supplier approval process will incorporate a review of controls undertaken by the supplier.

Managing Risk and Adherence to The Act 

Our standard supplier contract and grant agreements include modern slavery and human trafficking undertakings.  We expect our supply chain to respect and comply with all applicable laws, including The Act, and under our standard contracts and grants, the British Council reserves the right to terminate its arrangements with a supplier which is found to be in breach of The Act.

Social responsibility and human rights

  • The British Council is committed to respect for human rights and to acting in a socially responsible manner in our operations and programming.  We are current members of the United Nations Global Compact.  All our work seeks to support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights and to ensure that our staff, offices and supply chains are not complicit in human rights abuses.
  • As part of our commitment to the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office Code of Conduct and our determination to address this issue of global importance, we are exploring joining the Ethical Trading Initiative.


  • We recognise the importance of ensuring all our staff understand how modern slavery manifests itself and how to report when it does.  This is especially relevant to the British Council, given that we are operating in many diverse and multifaceted contexts.
  • Following the results of a successful UK awareness-raising pilot on Modern Slavery, we are now finalising a rollout plan, including appropriate updating of our training package, to our entire global network during financial year 23-24. The rollout itself will take place during financial year 24-25.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

The British Council can report on the following:

  • 14% percentage of suppliers falling into the high-risk categories (see Identifying and Managing Risk section above) to have completed modern slavery questionnaires at evaluation stage.

Based on the successful pilot we will be updating our training package, during financial year 23-24.

Next steps

The British Council is committed to continuous improvement in this area and will review and monitor and, where necessary, enhance our standards, policies and procedures, as well as improve the training and communications about The Act.  


Organisational Declaration

This statement is made pursuant to Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The statement has been approved by the Board of Trustees of the British Council on 24 October 2023 and signed on its behalf by the Deputy Chair and Acting Chair Sarah Sands.