A letter to my MP on the UK Steel Industry

The recently announced job losses in the UK steel industry are a disgrace, While our chancellor is courting China, seeking investment in HS2 and encouraging their companies to bid for infrastructure contracts in the UK, the steel industry in this country is going to the wall. Cheap chinese steel is “dumped” in this country and thousands of jobs are being lost yet our government is turning a blind eye to it. What can we do? Like with the tax credits cuts I believe that one answer is to let your MP know how you feel. A ground swell of dissent might bring it home to MPs that many in this country are not happy and that THEIR JOBS might be at risk.

Here’s my letter to my MP, sent via writetothem.com

Please take a minute and do the same.

——

Dear Mel Stride,

a couple of weeks ago (30th September to be precise) I wrote to you regarding our government investing £3m into grassroots Chinese football and you kindly replied that you were making enquiries on my behalf with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

However since then there have been the announcements that several steel plants will be closed, downsized or mothballed with the loss of thousands of jobs, including at the Tata Scunthorpe works which is not too far from my place of birth Cleethorpes.

While my original letter outlined my worries for Torquay United and also other lower league teams, I also mentioned that I was concerned that we as a country were throwing contracts to Chinese firms rather than British or even European companies. As you know, our steel industry is suffering due to the strength of the pound and British based firms are undercut by Chinese and even German firms who can be more competitive due to support form their governments or in the case of the Chinese, lower labour costs and less restrictions on due to poorer workers’ rights.

I understand that we might need to court China as the world’s 2nd largest economy but I am struggling to understand the sense in offering them what would seem like sweeteners while our own industry needs support and we could be servicing our need for materials such as steel nearer to home. Should we be wining and dining the Chinese president right now or should we be looking to support our industry?

Right now the recently announced job losses account for approximately one sixth of the steel industry workforce but is this just the start?

I therefore ask you and your ministerial colleagues:

Is it out of the question to support the UK steel industry? Surely we will need steel for HS2, power stations and other projects as well as day-to-day construction.

Does the government perhaps have a plan to provide jobs for those workers informed this week that they are to be out of work? The affected areas do not seem to be particularly blessed in terms of alternative employment.

Given the recent cuts to tax credits and other benefits, how are the affected families expected to provide for themselves?

Does this situation not make a mockery of the much heralded ‘Northern Powerhouse’?

Yours sincerely,

Rich Mills

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2 thoughts on “A letter to my MP on the UK Steel Industry

  1. a reply from Mel Stride

    (verbatim)

    Dear Rich
    Thank you for your email regarding the steel industry.
    The steel industry across the UK is facing very challenging economic conditions. While there is no straightforward solution to any of the complex issues involved, I can assure you that the Government is doing everything within its power to take action where it can, including in procurement, energy costs, unfair competition and dumping, and in tax.
    Competitive pricing from China is just one of many factors having an effect on the UK steel industry, as is global overproduction and fall in steel price. I can assure you, however, that the Government is working closely with the industry to discuss these matters, most recently through the Steel Summit held on 16 October 2015
    The closing of the iron and steelmaking facilities in Redcar is a big blow. I welcome, however, that the Government has put in place an £80 million package to support people who have lost their jobs and to invest in the future of the Tees Valley economy. The package includes funding for affected workers to train at local further education colleges and tailored support for them via Jobcentre Plus. It also includes finance to assist workers if they want to start up their own business and for local small businesses to grow and create jobs.

    Alongside this, the Government and Tata Steel has recently announced an initial support package of up to £9 million to support the local economy and employees affected by the proposed restructuring and job losses at the Scunthorpe steelworks.
    Rest assured, the Government will continue to do everything within its power to support communities where the local economy is built on steel, and will continue to do so.
    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    With best wishes
    Mel

    Mel Stride

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  2. evening Mel,

    thanks for taking the time to reply, it’s much appreciated. It’s a very difficult time for the steel industry and many traditional industries in this country

    Like you I welcome the support package but could that be better spent propping up steel in this country rather than these men and women losing their jobs? There has to be a longer term need for steel after all? I guess there’s no easy, simple answer and we’ll have to keep an eye on this but I can’t help but think that in the longterm we will regret becoming more dependent on external suppliers

    Regards,

    Rich Mills

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