Modern Slavery Statement

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LifeArc seeks to uphold the highest standards of honesty and integrity in its business dealings and operates a zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery and human trafficking. We strive to ensure that there is transparency in our approach to tackling modern slavery, consistent with the disclosure obligations under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Act).  Our policies and procedures demonstrate this commitment to act ethically and with integrity in all our interactions with stakeholders.

Our Organisation

LifeArc is a self-funded medical research charity registered in England and Wales. We accelerate healthcare innovation by transforming promising life-science ideas into life-changing medical breakthroughs for patients.

With over 300 employees, the charity has dedicated laboratories in Stevenage and Edinburgh, a team based at the Francis Crick Institute, and also offices located in London.

Our activities are overseen by the Board of Trustees who have overall and ultimate responsibility for the Charity’s activities. LifeArc’s day to day management resides in our Executive Team which reports directly to the Board of Trustees.

Our Supply Chains

To carry out our activities efficiently, we use suppliers to support the operations of our organisation. We utilise a Supplier Code of Conduct to set out how we expect those we engage to behave. The main areas in which we engage suppliers are:

  • Procurement of laboratory consumables and equipment;
  • Research services;
  • Facilities management;
  • Information technology;
  • Publishing and marketing;
  • Conference facilities;
  • Finance; and
  • Professional services.

In addition, we work closely with a range of organisations, including academic institutions and other research organisation as well as  grantees, where there may not be a purchaser/supplier relationship but where we also make clear our expectations of compliance with modern slavery legislation.

Our due diligence and contracting processes

During 2023 we continued to apply our existing processes as follows:

  • Procurement – we use a risk management and due diligence solution to onboard, screen and monitor our suppliers, investees and contracting parties as well as conducting financial screening. We analysed the outcome of the screening and removed any which presented risks to our organisation.
  • Internal Controls – we have comprehensive guidelines, including delegation of authority (financial) and authority to sign processes that set out authority levels to authorise spending and confirm agreement arrangements. These guidelines support the organisation with controls across financial, operational, compliance and reporting obligations. We also ensure appropriate due diligence is completed on a counter-party before a significant contract is signed.
  • Reporting/Whistleblowing – we encourage everyone working for us to report concerns about suspected wrongdoing at work via an internal reporting avenue or by contacting an independent and confidential whistleblowing hotline.
  • Human Resources – we conduct recruitment checks on our employees to ensure they have the right to work in the UK and pay at least the National Living Wage to all employees. Market-related pay and rewards are reviewed annually. A number of wellbeing initiatives support employee physical and mental health.
  • Agreements, including grant agreements – we require all counterparties to comply with the law (including in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking).
  • Assessing and managing risk – we seek to embed the identification and assessment of risk, and mitigation where required, into our strategic and operational decision making ativity.

We also took the following steps to enhance our approach to reducing the risk of modern slavery:

  • We introduced a Supplier Code of Conduct in 2022, which sets out LifeArc’s corporate responsibility requirements of its suppliers, including compliance with anti-slavery legislation. Suppliers are expected to comply with the Code of Conduct as a condition of doing business with LifeArc.
  • We developed our approach to procurement, including supplier selection and supplier performance management, introducing a business partnering approach to improve the quality of procurement decisions and supplier risk management.
  • We have introduced a Supplier page on our internet, which enables suppliers to directly access the Code of Conduct and our terms of purchase.

Our Policies on Anti-slavery and Human Trafficking

We have a number of policies that contribute to ensuring modern slavery does not occur in our organisation or supply chains:

  • Modern Slavery Policy – requires employees to prevent, detect and report modern slavery in any part of our business or supply chains.
  • Whistleblowing Policy– enables employees to raise concerns and disclose information internally and at a high level which the individual believes shows malpractice or impropriety.
  • Safeguarding Policy – ensures that vulnerable groups impacted by projects and programmes delivered and/or supported by LifeArc are protected as far as possible from harm, including exploitation, neglect and abuse of all kinds.
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy – embodies our commitment to establishing a diverse workforce and create equal opportunity for all.
  • Anti-bribery and Corruption Policy – requires employees to prevent, detect and report bribery and corruption, ensuring LifeArc conducts its business in an honest and ethical manner. All employees are requird to complete e-learning on anti-bribery and corruption.
  • Health and Safety Policy – ensures as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees and others that may be affected by our activities. LifeArc also complies with the Working Time Regulations (1998).
  • Procurement Policy – includes factors to be considered when selecting our suppliers such as compliance with laws. New and renewed supply contracts are expressly obliged to comply with the Act.

Risk assessment

Risk management is applied across LifeArc’s functions and ensure due diligence is applied. LifeArc believes that because of the steps it has taken, it has a low risk of modern slavery issues within the business and in its direct supply chain, and there have been no reported instances of suspected modern slavery or people trafficking during the year. However, we are not complacent and will continue to be alert for potential issues.

Our commitment

We are committed to minimising the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking occurring in our organisation and supply chains and will: (i) continue to review our approach to modern slavery and human trafficking and raise awareness across the organisation; (ii) continue to refine our third-party risk management and due diligence processes; and (iii) revise and refine our procurement procedures.

Approval for this Statement

This statement is made pursuant to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes LifeArc’s slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial period ending 31 December 2023. It was approved by the Board of Trustees on 21 March 2024.

Dr Ian Gilham, Chair
21 March 2024

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