A top-level summit with the key players from the UK steel industry has agreed that further detailed joint work is urgently required in three key areas.
The Government has met with steel companies, unions and trade bodies in Rotherham today following the closure of SSI’s Redcar plant.
Trade unions met with government representatives to discuss ways to salvage the UK steel industry after the closure of the Redcar plant in the North East that resulted in the loss of 1,700.
Working groups chaired by ministers will now be set up. They will gather evidence, including from industry, and work through the following issues:
- Public procurement – the ambition is to drive up the number of contracts won by UK steel manufacturers in fair and open competition.
- International comparisons – to consider what lessons can be learned from other countries in the EU and beyond
- Competitiveness and productivity – to look at energy and environmental costs, business rates, regulation and what action industry can take to drive up their competitiveness including skills, training and maximising their assets.
The Government will also continue to engage with industry about the long-term vision and future for the steel industry.
Despite the many challenges the UK has a number of key strengths, particularly in high quality and high performance steels for sectors like aerospace; defence; energy, and advanced engineering.
The UK steel industry:
- The UK steel industry employs around 30,000 people
- Demand for steel worldwide has not returned to pre-crash levels. World Steel suggest that global demand for steel will remain sluggish, falling by 1.7% in 2015 and rising by 0.7% in 2016
- The price of steel has halved over the past year
- Both the yuan and rouble have devalued, adding further pressure to the UK steel industry
It will be important for the UK to stay at the cutting edge.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid commented: “There is no straightforward solution to the complex global challenges facing the steel industry.
“But today was an important opportunity to bring the key players together and we now have a framework of action.
“The Government is committed to working closely with industry on both short-term and long-term issues and to doing everything we can to support both industry and the workers.
“A strong economy underpins everything and we will continue to focus on securing the UKs economic recovery across the UK.”