Government committee: Future of UK steel still not secure

Posted on 21 Dec 2015 by Callum Bentley

The UK government reacted too slowly to save the UK steel industry, says a cross-party report published today says.

Despite increased action by ministers to address both domestic and EU-wide policies that cripple the industry, about 4,000 jobs, or one fifth of the UK steel workforce, were lost in October.

The crisis prompted EU ministers to hold talks at Britain’s request, and forced the UK government to pledge action on some of the industry’s concerns on high energy costs, green taxes, business rates and cheap imports, notably from China.

However, according to the report, increased government activity has not yet translated into measurable impact. Nor will current measures be enough to provide certainty for the future.

“Government must now work with industry to establish what a sustainable future for UK steel looks like, and then commit to taking the necessary measures to help deliver it,” the UK Department of Business Innovation and Skills select committee report said.

UK Steel said the report was welcomed by industry, however there was still much work to be done to ensure the sector was protected moving forward.

Commenting on the report, Gareth Stace, Director of UK Steel, said: “This is a welcome and supportive report from the Committee which highlights the highly damaging cocktail of factors which have hit the steel industry during the course of this year. The key is for Government and all stakeholders to work together on delivering action to ensure we have a sustainable future for the steel industry in the UK. It is essential we do not lose the current momentum.

“Immediate priorities are the tackling of Chinese dumping of cheap steel at EU level and a firm commitment from Government to ensure that all major procurement projects, from rail to tidal barrages and airports, use British steel to give this vital UK  industry confidence for the long term. Business rates must also be reformed to avoid some of the penalties steel companies and other manufacturers face if they invest in plant and machinery.”