Government accused of doing too little to protect UK steel industry

Sarah Spickernell
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The UK's steel industry has been hit as prices fell (Source: Getty)

A committee of MPs has accused the UK government of taking “little action” to safeguard the nation's steel industry.

The group said unlike other European nations, Britain was not alert enough to the implications of falling prices, and as a result didn't do enough to stop the crisis from escalating.

Thousands of jobs have been slashed in the industry in recent months, including in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire, and the SSI plant in Redcar.

The Business, Innovation and Skills committee also said the government was more focused on compensating workers than on trying to save steel plants, and that there weren't effective warning systems in place.

It criticised the government for not pushing for European Union action, and said this resulted in exposure to China's practise of dumping cheap imports, which has caused a global over-supply of the commodity.

For the UK steel industry to have any kind of future, they argued Chinese "dumping" must be tackled as a priority.

Iain Wright, chairman of the committee, said in a statement: "The steel industry is now on the verge of terminal decline. 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.

"The government has now woken up to the steel crisis and [has] begun to take action, but this recent activity still needs to translate to concrete results for the industry and the communities they sustain.

"Steel is a strategic industry and ministers have recognised its strategic importance. The inaction with steel doesn't bode well for other strategic industries if they were to face a crisis.

"Lessons need to be learned from steel. The government therefore needs to take a far more active approach in the future in assisting British industries and manufacturing."

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