Government must pull out all the stops for the British steel sector to weather this storm

Commenting on the ongoing steel crisis, Gareth Stace, Director, UK Steel said:

“It is now 24 hours since the emergency meeting at Number 10 and now we need the evidence that Government is pulling out all the stops to take action to reassure workers, potential investors and the UK economy as a whole that there is a future for steel making in Britain. If there is a will, then there is a way.

“Six months ago, UK Steel and the Unions set out emergency actions, which needed to be implemented in full in the short term. This has not happened. For more than 15 years we have been telling successive governments that a raft of ill thought policies were body blows to the UK steel sector Added together they have significantly put us in the sorry position we find ourselves in today. A situation far worse than what was envisaged after the closure of Redcar site six months ago.

“The Government needed to fully and swiftly address the emergency actions months ago and then focus on the underlying long term concerns of the sector and unique action that reflects the depth of the current crisis, namely tackling unfair trade and being highly committed and creative around direct state aid for this vital industrial sector.

“There is still more short term action needed to fully address energy price parity with Europe, a step change in the use of British steel in all major construction and defence projects and Business Rates.

“The Government must today change its position blocking the scrapping of the Lesser Duty Rule – removing the sign above Europe, saying ‘please dump here, you’re welcome’. We should follow the lead of our German counterparts who stand firmly behind their steel industry, manufacturing and consumers by backing the scrapping of the LDR.

“There are more tools in the Trade Defence Instrument box and if the UK Government and other members states now accept that steel making in the Europe is in ‘emergency measures’, then even the nuclear option of ‘safeguards’ must be on the table. Enacting ‘safeguards’ would effectively halt the flood of imports into the EU, which is drowning us in full sight of the global sector. Such a bold move, would give us time to breathe, take stock and see light at the end of the tunnel.

“We must stop using the word nationalisation and fully explore how the UK Government can temporarily keep alive the UK Tata Steel businesses, especially if a buyer isn’t found in the days to come. Every effort must be made to ensure that investing in these businesses is made as attractive and sustainable as possible, both for the short and long term. This global steel crisis will pass and we must not let the death of steel making in the UK be used as a text book history lesson of why government intervention must be swift and significant.

“UK Steel believes strongly that there can be a future for the steel industry, with government support for domestic policy to bring parity with our European competitors and strong action, led by the UK in Brussels to ensure we are not seen as the dumping ground for Chinas woes.”