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Europeans safeguarded their plants

Westminster ‘too slow’ to respond to crisis in steel industry

DalzellUK government ministers have been accused of failing to pre-empt warnings about problems facing the British steel industry while action was taken in other European countries to safeguard their own operations.

The Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said the Government had been too slow to respond to the threats which ultimately led to thousands of job losses across the UK.

The SSI plant in Redcar closed in October and more job were lost in Lanarkshire and Scunthorpe.

Committee chairman Iain Wright said: “For too long the Government failed to be alert to the alarms raised by the industry and act at home to maintain a steel industry in the UK when other European countries were acting to safeguard their own strategic steel industries.

“Industry isn’t looking for a hand-out, it’s looking for a level-playing field: for too long there was little action from the Government, with some asks from the industry taking years, if at all, to deliver.”

Last week, the European Union approved the Government’s application to provide some relief for the cost of environmental taxes, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

The committee’s report acknowledged that the government had now responded to the crisis.

“This recent activity still needs to translate to concrete results for the industry and the communities they sustain,” Mr Wright said.

“The Government have relied on crisis management rather than ongoing engagement with the steel industry; they now need to commit to taking the necessary measures to ensure a sustainable future.”

The Scottish government responded to the job cuts at the Tata steel plants in Lanarkshire by establishing a task force to seek a buyer.

 

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