John calls for Government help for steel

MP John Healey has called on the Government to do more to help the South Yorkshire steel industry.

He was speaking during a debate in Parliament yesterday (14th January) when MPs passed a motion recognising the importance of the steel industry and calling for the Government to put together a plan for its future. They also asked ministers to help with high energy costs.

Mr Healey said 2015 would be a critical year for the British steel industry.

He added: “After nearly five years of failing economic policies, Britain badly needs a successful steel industry.”

He said the country faced a trade deficit – the difference between imports and exports – of £110 billion a year, but the steel industry made a positive trade contribution of £2.4 billion in 2013.

Tata’s speciality steels manufacturing, largely based in South Yorkshire, employs 2,250 people, with 1,050 in Rotherham.

Mr Healey said South Yorkshire steel-making was “innovative, internationally competitive and successful” but “under great pressure”.

“It is hampered by high energy costs and held back by the Government not doing all they can to back this great British industry,” he added.

“We have come close to losing our Aldwarke plant before, and it was only because of the trade unions, working alongside the management that in 2008-09 we brought that company through that period.”

In the past year demand for steel has increased by 15 per cent but most was met by imported steel.

The cost of energy for UK steel-makers is €77 per megawatt-hour, but €49 in France, €38 in the US and €33 in Germany.

Mr Healey said the Government must bring in earlier help with energy costs, negotiate a good trade deal with America and commit to local economic benefit clauses on public projects.