UK Steel "encouraged" by May's support for the Welsh steel sector

 
Jessica Morris
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Thousands of UK steel jobs are at risk (Source: Getty)

UK Steel today welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May's "encouraging" support for the Welsh steel sector, and called for it to be broadened to the entire industry.

It comes as May promised to work with the Welsh government and Tata Steel. ‚ÄčThe Indian conglomerate recently paused sale talks in favour of a merger with Germany's ThyssenKrupp, reigniting fears that its Port Talbot steelworks could be closed.

Read more: German rival confirms talks with Tata Steel over European collaboration

Gareth Stace, director of UK steel, said: "From the very top of government there now seems to be a firm desire to focus on industry."

He also called on the newly created Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to address the costs that British steel makers face, as well as ensure major infrastructure projects are set into motion.

But merging the departments for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has raised eyebrows in Westminster, with critics likening it to a "gigantic licence to engage in central planning".

Industrial strategy is commonly seen as a more interventionist approach to the economy than that adopted by market liberal-leaning governments. A former BIS adviser previously told City A.M that the department had banned the use of the term as recently as 2012.

Read more: Union urges Tata to end "rollercoaster of uncertainty" as it halts UK sale

"My government is committed to helping the steel industry secure a long-term, viable future in wales," May said in a statement released ahead of the visit.

"The steel industry is vital to the UK and we will do everything we can to look after the workers and wider community as we work with Tata and the Welsh government."

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