Trade group attacks Government for failure to act earlier on plight of UK steel industry

Tata Steel Brenda Road, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID
Tata Steel Brenda Road, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

The Government has been attacked for not taking emergency action months ago to head off the jobs crisis now gripping the steel industry.

Trade group UK Steel, which has an operation in Hartlepool, said it set out six months ago what needed to be done in the short term – but it has not happened.

Tata Steel announced earlier this week that it planned to sell its UK assets, including Hartlepool’s Brenda Road plant, where 500 people work and the firm’s giant steelworks at Port Talbot, in South Wales – which is the biggest in the country.

Director Gareth Stace said: “For more than 15 years we have been telling successive governments that a raft of ill-thought policies were body blows to the UK steel sector.

“Added together they have significantly put us in the sorry position we find ourselves in today. A situation far worse than what was envisaged after the closure of the Redcar site six months ago.

“The Government needed to fully and swiftly address the emergency actions months ago and then focus on the underlying long-term concerns of the sector and unique action that reflects the depth of the current crisis, namely tackling unfair trade and being highly committed and creative around direct state aid for this vital industrial sector.”

A spokesman for the Community union said: “Steelworkers across the country will be shocked that it has taken this long for the Government to finally wake up to the crisis facing our steel industry.”

Town MP Iain Wright previously said: “The Government needs to do all it can to safeguard the long-term viability of the British steel industry.”