UK Steel has today published a Brexit blueprint outlining the urgent steps Government needs to take in order to secure a long-term, successful and sustainable steel industry for the nation.
According to industry trade body, UK Steel, the prospect of a Brexit comes as blow to the sector, which had previously indicated that its survival rate was higher if the UK remained part of the EU.
Its manifesto identifies over-capacity, unfair trade and a lack of parity with European competitors as the key issues the industry faces.
In stark terms, these have led to a 60% decline in the number of people employed in the sector since 1995, and a 10% drop in production compared to 2014 – with predictions that this will worsen by the end of 2016.
At the same time, Chinese steel exports have rocketed by almost 400% since 2009.
UK Steel makes a number of recommendations to Government, but says that key among these is to remove unilateral energy costs; increase the procurement of UK steel; tackle unfair trade; provide funding mechanisms for energy efficiency projects, and determine what investment and support is required by the industry in the long-term.
By taking these steps, the steel sector will not only survive, but in the longer-term will also thrive and provide the UK with security of supply as it splits away from the EU.
Director of UK Steel, Gareth Stace commented: “The outcome of the EU referendum has fanned the flames of the crisis threatening to engulf our entire industry.
“In the short-term this means an even bumpier ride, but it also gives the Government added incentive to ensure our sector survives.
“In post- Brexit Britain, self-sufficiency and security of steel supply will be of even greater strategic economic importance – this makes it more important than ever that the Government matches words with actions and takes all necessary steps to support our sector now.
He added: “Everything we are asking for is designed to provide our sector with a level playing field so that we can compete fairly and freely.
“But this blueprint is also an urgent reminder to government that it cannot afford to row back on commitments to support the steel industry now. Above all it must not allow the current political turmoil or Brexit negotiations to distract, deter or delay it in making decisions vital to British steel making’s long-term survival.”