Aberavon MP, Stephen Kinnock, will attend a summit hosted by Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP, Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, to discuss the serious challenges faced by the steel industry. The summit will take place on 16th October, in Rotherham, and will be attended by MPs of steel-making constituencies, Government departments, CEOs of UK steel makers and trade union leaders, as well as representatives of the Welsh and Scottish Governments.

Mr Kinnock said,

“Steelmaking in the UK is at crisis point today. The news that SSI, owners of the Redcar steel plant on Teeside, have gone into liquidation is a crushing blow to workers already devastated  by the announcement that the plant is to be mothballed. 1700 jobs will be lost as a direct result, and many more in the supply chain will follow. Many of those workers have been employed at the plant for all their working lives, and had arrived for their shifts as usual, only to be turned around and sent home with no clear idea of where they stood.”

“SSI is clearly at fault here in terms of poor management and very weak contingency planning. However, it is equally clear that the UK government is guilty of a lack of engagement. The emergency summit on Friday is welcome, but this crisis has been approaching for months, so why has it taken so long for ministers to act? So far the UK government has comprehensively failed to stand up for steel. I can only hope that the summit will mark a change of attitude, and direction.”

“This crisis has been approaching for months, yet the Government have blindly sleepwalked into the current position. It appears to have accepted the end of steel-making at Teeside, which is wholly unacceptable.  Whilst the Government has announced an £80 million support package for those who have lost their jobs at SSI, I fear that this will not go far enough. At the very least the Government should assist with the mothballing of Redcar’s assets to increase the likelihood of steel-making continuing at the plant in the future if a buyer can be found.”

“I recently made a speech in the House of Commons in which I outlined the steps I believe the Government should and must take if they are serious about supporting the UK steel industry. It is critical that the Government accelerate the full implementation of the energy-intensive industries package so that the steel industry can receive respite from the crippling energy costs it currently faces. For this to happen, the Government must insist that steel is prioritised amongst the British cases awaiting the attention of the European Commissioner.”

“Removing plant and business machinery from the business rates valuation process will provide some relief from the costs the steel industry incurs to do business.”

“The Minister must also firmly stand up for steel in Brussels, Beijing and Washington, and tackle the barriers being deployed by the US and Chinese Governments to prevent the fair access of British steel to the US and Chinese markets.”

“The Government’s failure to defend the UK steel industry in the strongest possible terms will have catastrophic results. Redcar is already suffering the consequences of that inaction. As I pointed out when I appeared on Question Time last week, the Government have been caught asleep at the wheel by the current crisis, despite having had months in which to intervene.”

“I urge the Government to make a strong commitment to supporting our vital steel industry in the UK, in Redcar and in my Constituency of Aberavon, and I hope we will hear reassurances of that commitment at the forthcoming summit on 16th October.”

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