Tata Europe boss calls on the government to slash energy bills

Steel boss Karl Koehler has called on the government to slash energy bills.

The CEO of Tata Steel Europe said that heavy industries need help to deal with rapidly rising costs.

Speaking at a conference in London, Mr Koehler argued that revitalising these sectors could play a major part in rebalancing of the UK economy.

"If the government is serious about rebalancing the economy and creating sustainable jobs in the regions, it must recognise the importance of the UK's foundation industries" he said.

The comments come in the wake of a PwC report highlighting the benefits of so-called foundation industries such as metals, chemicals and cement. The report showed how these sectors had suffered since the financial crisis shrinking by as much as a quarter.

These foundation industries employ close to half a million people in the UK and accounted for 30 per cent of total exports in 2012, with turnover close to £69bn.

Mr Koehler stressed that companies in Britain operated on an "unlevel" playing field, with energy costs almost 50 per cent higher compared to some of their European competitors.

The Tata boss also called for a dedicated ministerial post to champion the cause of foundation industries.

However, this idea was rejected by the business secretary Vince Cable:

We have to address the problem. This industry wants substance and engagement, and they have got it. There is a difference between tokenism and real engagement.