Steel in crisis: timeline and events in Parliament

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

2015

16 July: Tata announces job losses in South Yorkshire and West Midlands

17 September: Backbench business debate (Anna Turley)

28 September: SSI mothball Redcar plant

2 October: SSI goes into liquidation and the Government announces package of support for Redcar steelworkers

12 October: Official Recover announces Redcar plant will close

13 October: Urgent question (Anna Turley)

15 October: Urgent question (Tom Blenkinsop)

16 October: Tata announces “significant reductions in workforce” at Scunthorpe, Clydebridge and Dalzell and the UK Government holds a Steel Summit involving Ministers, industry, union leaders and MPs

20 October: Scottish Government establish steel taskforce and Urgent question (Kevin Brennan)

28 October: Opposition day debate (Labour)

9 November: Steel discussed at EU Competitiveness Council

21 December: BIS Select Committee report published

2016

18 January: Tata announces job losses mainly at Port Talbot, Welsh Government establish steel taskforce and a Ministerial statement (Anna Soubry)

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)

3 March: Backbench business debate (on Welsh Affairs Committee report)

29 March: Tata steel announces intention to sell all UK steel businesses

8 April: Liberty House takes ownership of Scottish steel plants at Clydebridge and Dalzell

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