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UK Government needs to do more for steel industry

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Staff writer ▼ | December 22, 2015
The UK Government has failed to do enough to help the steel industry from the impact of falling prices and cheap Chinese imports, according to a report from the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee.
UK steel industry
Industry   Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee:
At least 4,000 people have lost their jobs in the past few months following a number of closures of steel plants including in Redcar, Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire. Plants were hit by flagging demand, competition from China, high electricity costs and a strong pound.

"For too long the government failed to be alert to the alarms raised by the industry and act at home to maintain a steel industry in the UK when other European countries were acting to safeguard their own strategic steel industries," Iain Wright, chairman of the BIS, told the BBC's Today programme.

"Industry isn't looking for a hand-out, it's looking for a level playing field. For too long there was little action from the government, with some asks from the industry taking years, if at all, to deliver."

The government said the industry had complex global challenges which no one simple solution could solve. A spokesman said that the government was doing everything possible to address the issues and it had met "key industry asks".

But Wright said government measures were focused more on those who had lost their jobs than keeping factories operating.

He added that energy costs are loaded onto British steel manufacturers to the detriment of competitiveness and "business rates act as a real disincentive to ensuring that people can invest in plant and machinery to make British steel production more efficient and more competitive".

A government spokesman said: "We have taken clear action on relief for energy costs, anti-dumping, procurement and EU emissions directives, meeting key industry asks."