Britain’s steelmakers are urging the Government to help the industry survive mounting pressure.
Leading players on the Steel Industry Forum (SIF) in London want ministers to take five immediate steps, including anti-dumping measures which they say would alleviate short-term pressures and allow them to compete on a level playing in Europe.
It follows the announcement from manufacturer SSI that it would be halting production on Teesside and the Government calling a crisis summit.
The SIF said the industry was battling falling prices, a rise in unfairly traded steel imports and a consistently strong pound, as well as higher policy and business costs than European competitors.
Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, said: “This is a critical time for the future of the steel industry which is facing a perfect storm. The Government has within its power to take immediate steps which can alleviate pressure in the short term.”
The SIF called for five changes:
- Continue to back EU-level action on anti-dumping measures, which support the UK steel sector against the rapid rise in global imports
- Support local content in major construction projects
- Implement the Energy Intensive Industry Compensation Package, ahead of April 2016. The sector is currently still paying 70% of the policy costs that the full package aims to address
- Bring business rates for capital-intensive firms in line with their competitors in France and Germany. UK companies are currently paying between five and 10 times more than their EU competitors
- Fully consider derogation requests from the sector on a realistic timetable to meet increased commitments under the Industrial Emissions Directive. Under current proposals, the cost of meeting revised permits for the sector are estimated at up to £500m by 2019
The sector employs 30,000 people, contributes £9.5bn to the UK economy and has a £4.9bn export value. It is also a foundation for many of the UK’s manufacturing supply chains such as aerospace and construction.