Hartlepool MP warns: ‘Steel industry could be gone by end of year’

The SSI Steelworks in Redcar.
The SSI Steelworks in Redcar.

Britain’s steel industry could be wiped out by the end of this year unless the Government takes action now, Hartlepool’s MP Iain Wright has warned.

His comments came on a day when Tata Steel confirmed around 900 jobs will be cut from the firm’s giant plant in Scunthorpe, with 270 in Scotland and a small number in other sites.

What is the secretary of state doing to bridge the gap between the short term existential threat to the industry with companies, skills and jobs dropping like nine pins day after day, and that long term vision, because frankly if he doesn’t take urgent action now in days there won’t be a British steel industry left by the end of the year, let alone 2030

Iain Wright, Hartlepool MP

The firm said the cuts were in response to a shift in market conditions caused by a “flood” of cheap imports, particularly from China, a strong pound and high electricity prices.

The latest bad news follows the announcement that the Thai owners of the Redcar steelworks on Teesside, SSI, had gone into liquidation with the loss of 2,200 jobs, then Caparo went into administration on Monday.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid was summoned to the Commons to outline what the Government was doing.

More infrastructure contracts could be offered to UK steel manufacturers in a bid to shore up the flagging industry,

Mr Javid repeated promises to offer support to workers made redundant.

And he added: “We will drive up the number of public procurement contracts won by UK steel manufacturers and their partners through and fair and open competition.

“This Government is committed to a major programme of infrastructure spending. I am determined the UK steel industry should play a central role in its delivery.”

Mr Wright raised the launch of the metals strategy, adding: “What is the secretary of state doing to bridge the gap between the short term existential threat to the industry with companies, skills and jobs dropping like nine pins day after day, and that long term vision, because frankly if he doesn’t take urgent action now in days there won’t be a British steel industry left by the end of the year, let alone 2030.”

Mr Javid said: “This week there will also be announcements of further business from China incoming to Britain, opportunities for British companies to export to China, in total worth over £25 billion to the British economy.

“That will help sustain thousands and thousands of jobs throughout the country.”

Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, said: “As a former steelworker of 31 years standing, can I say that Chinese dumping and Government neglect is killing the British steel industry while the Government is simultaneously gifting future nuclear jobs to China.

“Isn’t the posture of this Government towards China today that of a supplicant, fawning spaniel that licks the hand that beats it?”

Mr Javid said: “I think you want to be reassured we will bring up the issue of unfair trade with China and we will do.”