Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin: The Conservative government must do more to help steelworkers after Tata Steel, Caparo and SSI closures

James Nickerson
Follow James
The government needs to do more to ensure the sustainability of the UK steel industry, says Dakin (Source: Getty)

The combined effort by Tata Steel and the government to commit £9m to help Scunthorpe steelworkers and the local community affected by job losses is welcome, but more must be done, according to Labour MP for Scunthorpe Nic Dakin.

Speaking to City A.M. Dakin said: "All support is welcome. However, alongside what has been announced, we really desperately need decisive action by the UK Conservative government on energy costs, business rates and Chinese dumping so that we have a sustainable steel industry now and for the future."

"We've had a lot of warm words, but to date no real action."

Earlier this week Tata Steel announced it was cutting up to 1,200 jobs in Scunthorpe and Scotland as it scales back operations. Some 900 jobs will go in Scunthorpe.

Read more: This chart shows the decline of the UK's steel industry

In response, the government is committing a total of £6m to help training of affected employees and provide support for local start-up business and companies looking to expand. Tata Steel has pledged £3m to help job creation.

But Dakin said: "The chancellor could at the very least bring forward the policies to mitigate energy costs for energy intensive firms. It's scheduled for 2016, but why not do it now and send a clear message that the UK government is committed to the industry and future?"

Read more: Government to hold crisis summit on UK steel industry

On business rates, Dakin said the government needs to "level the playing field", citing how a larger site Tata owns in the Netherlands costs £3m in business rates, compared to the £15m in Scunthorpe.

And last in a bitter cocktail of factors, while the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has been in the UK and defended Chinese steel production, "the Prime Minister should be making it clear that we're not having any more dumping of Chinese steel".

Respite may come on Tuesday, however, when business ministers and industry figures are set to be grilled by a committee of MPs over the crisis hammering the UK steel sector.

Ministers, representatives of producers and unions descended on Rotherham last week for a crisis meeting over the UK's steel industry, the day after the final clousre of the SSI steelworks in Redcar, which resulted in the loss of 1,700 jobs.

Earlier this month the department for business unveiled an £80m package to invest in the local area, providing funding for workers to train at local further education colleges, financial assistance for workers who want to start their own business, and cash for local businesses planning to provide more jobs.

Related articles