IF you're getting goods or services too cheaply, you could be funding modern slavery.

That's the warning from Swindon councillor Steve Allsopp, who says everyone – including the authority – needs to be vigilant.

He is asking council officers to examine cheap bids and prices for jobs more closely in a move to stop people being exploited by modern slavery tactics.

Mr Allsopp says there was a five per cent increase in the reporting of cases of modern slavery in the south west in 2017, and the Global Slavery Index estimates there may be 136,000 victims of such exploitation in the UK today.

Coun Allsopp, who is the deputy leader of the opposition Labour group, said: “Modern slavery is a real problem and it’s something we have to really keep an eye on constantly, and my motion is based on work done by the Co-operative Group on the issue.

“I think it’s important as a council that we make sure we are thinking about it when awarding contracts.

“And it’s something we should all be thinking about.

"If you’re having you’re car washed, say, for a really cheap price by a group of people that might suggest that they’re probably not being paid a proper living wage.

“People are brought to Britain by people traffickers, lured here by the promises of proper work and they have their passports taken away and they can’t get away and they’re forced into slavery.

"If there’s some-one cleaning, for example, and you’re not allowed to speak to them by their boss, then that might be a sign that all is not right.”

He is asking for a report to be compiled to see how the authority can do more against the problem including training the procurement team to understand modern slavery through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s online course on ethical procurement and supply.

Mr Allsopp wants the council to require contractors to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies, and use contract termination as a potential sanction for non-compliance and to challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders to ensure they do not rely upon the potential contractor using modern slavery.

As well as requiring council contractors to adopt a whistle-blowing policy on modern slavery and to agree not to punish staff for joining a trade union, the motion says council officers who feel there is a cause for concern regarding one of the council’s contractors should refer it to the relevant agencies including the National Crime Agency.

Wiltshire Police have also launched a campaign asking the people to tip them off to exploitation using the hashtag #telluswhatyousee.

By the end of October, police in the south west said they has already received more tip offs this year than the record 3272 made in all of 2017. In 2015 Nerijus Gudelevicius who lived in Westlea was jailed for two years for modern slavery offences. He enticed people to Britain from Lithuania to work as charity bag collectors, but paid them a pittance and charged them rents nearly as high as their pay.