This statement is designed to satisfy the requirements of Section 54 Part 6 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, by informing our staff, suppliers to the British Council and the public about the British Council and its policies with respect to modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and labour rights violations in its supply chains.

Our status, operations and supply chain

The British Council is registered as a charity under registration numbers 209131 (England and Wales) and SC037733 (Scotland) 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 artseducation and society.

The British Council has a diverse and substantial supply chain, with procurement carried out both centrally and within local markets across the globe. The Global Procurement function is responsible for the corporate procurement policy and strategy.

Current policy and processes

Our corporate procurement policy is based on the UK government public sector procurement legislature and EU Procurement Regulations. It provides standards and obligations when procuring goods and services on behalf of the British Council from external third party suppliers. This includes planning, sourcing, supplier selection and contracting.

The policy’s objectives include ensuring 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 comply with EU and UK law and address environmental management, health and safety and equality legislation. We provide guidance and tools to ensure that the policy is followed during the procurement process.

Suppliers are appointed following evaluation criteria which include supplier statements on risk, the environment, health and safety as well as adult and child safeguarding

We require our suppliers to maintain standards while supplying us and we will act to terminate contracts where we become aware of serious transgressions. We have a 'raising concerns' process that can be used to register concerns over supplier behaviours. 

Due diligence

With over 60,000 suppliers across eight regions, globally delivering a wide range of goods and services, we need to ensure that the high risk categories and countries, as identified by the Global Slavery Index, are checked. 

We have created a toolkit consisting of:

  • British Council Modern Slavery Act policy
  • Supplier's Code of Conduct
  • Guidance on how to carry out due diligence
  • Link to the British Council's supplier portal

The toolkit has been provided to all British Council regions and will be used to identify and carry out the due diligence on categories and suppliers deemed to be high risk. The data will be gathered and fed back to improve our soucing and for reporting into future statements.

Social responsibility and human rights

We are 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 (UNGC). Our offices and programmes seek 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.

Supplier adherence to the Act

Our standard supplier contract and grant agreement templates have been updated to include modern slavery and human trafficking warranties and undertakings. We expect our supply chain to respect and comply with all applicable laws, including the Act, and the British Council reserves the right to terminate its commercial partnership or contractual obligations with any supplier who is found to be in breach of, or who fails to comply with the Act. This applies to any supplier in any type of contractual agreement with the British Council both domestically and internationally.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

The British Council will report on the following KPIs:

  • number of suppliers contacted regarding their policy towards slavery and human trafficking
  • number of suppliers who responded about their policy towards slavery and human trafficking
  • number of suppliers confirming their organisations are slavery and human trafficking free, and that they have similar or equivalent policies which apply to their supply chain.

As we review and monitor our policies about the Act, we will add to the KPIs where necessary, to ensure that modern slavery and human trafficking is not taking place within our supply chain.

Next steps

The British Council is a dynamic organisation with ever-evolving business requirements in diverse locations, and we recognise that there are always improvements that can be made. We intend to continue to review and monitor and, where necessary, enhance our policies and procedures, as well as improve the training and communications about the Act.

We take our responsibility to prevent modern slavery and trafficking from existing in our supply chain seriously, and we will keep working with our suppliers to ensure that they sign up to and work within our supplier code of conduct.

We are reviewing the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) with a view to signing up to this in the next 12 months as a further commitment to dealing with this Global issue.