Since the summer of 2015 the British steel industry has been in turmoil. Steel plants have closed, several steel manufacturing companies have gone into liquidation, and others have been restructured. There have been around 5,000 jobs lost in the industry, with redundancies across the country, most numerously in Redcar, Hartlepool, South Wales and Motherwell.
The reasons for this sudden decline are complex, involving local factors such as comparatively high energy costs in the UK, and global factors such as the enormous oversupply of steel, driven particularly by Chinese steel production, which accounted for 49% of the world total in 2014.
Parliamentarians have been active in raising the plight of the steel industry and making the case for Government action. The UK Government and the Governments of the devolved nations have responded with a number of policy initiatives intended to strengthen private sector confidence in the industry, ease some of the cost pressures felt by steel manufacturers and provide training for steel workers whose jobs are threatened.
The future of the UK steel industry remains unclear. The UK Government have stated that they are willing to take a stake of up to 25% in Tata Steel’s UK operations. Despite this, Tata have announced that they will cease all operations at their Port Talbot plant on the 28th May 2016 if they are unable to find a “viable buyer” for the plant.
UK steel crisis: time line of events and relevant Parliamentary events
17 September: Backbench business debate (Anna Turley)
28 September: SSI mothball Redcar plant
13 October: Urgent question (Anna Turley)
15 October: Urgent question (Tom Blenkinsop)
28 October: Opposition day debate (Labour)
9 November: Steel discussed at EU Competitiveness Council
21 December: BIS Select Committee report published
19 January: Adjournment debate (Anna Turley)
21 January: Backbench business debate (Stephen Kinnock)
23 January: Government response to BIS Committee Report
29 February: Opposition day debate (Labour)