Optimism growing over "make or break" steel pensions vote ahead of next week's result

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The result of the crucial union ballot is expected in the middle of next week (Source: Getty)

Optimism is increasing over a "make or break" vote for the future of British steel, with a result expected to be announced as soon as Wednesday.

Members of GMB, Unite and Community are still being balloted over proposals that will see Tata Steel pump £1bn into the sprawling Port Talbot steelworks in exchange for workers accepting changes to their pension schemes.

However, with a final verdict expected in the middle of next week, multiple sources now suggest that steelworkers may have swung behind the offer at the last minute.

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"In the last week or so, people have been coming round and realising that exactly what is at stake here," one Westminster source told City A.M.

"You can't be confident about a vote like this, but the needle does seem to have moved, and particularly since the unions officially announced they were backing the deal."

Another said: "It's been hard work, but people seem to be seeing that this is a good deal that's going to take us forward."

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The ballot is vitally important for the future of the sector, with speculation rife that Tata could return to its planning of selling off its UK steel making businesses, or seek to relocate operations overseas, if it cannot find a solution to the scheme's yawning pension deficit.

Tata declined to comment.