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.

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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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A letter to my MP on the changes to tax credits

I normally take a deep breath and think about what I want to say before I write to my MP. I normally let the first rush of anger and frustration subside before starting to type but this time I didn’t wait, I didn’t need to. I’m clear on what I think about the debate and vote on tax credits today and I don’t need to wait.

I was doing some quick sums on the effect of the measures voted through today and I came to the same conclusion as many observers, commentators, unions, etc. those in need of tax credits because of low incomes will find themselves with even lower incomes. Unison published this image which summarises it quite neatly and It’s chilling. A low earner just cannot afford to lose more than 10% of his income.

Your MP probably doesn’t respond to the standard campaign emails, the 38 Degrees, etc, mine now has an auto-response to that effect, so take a minute to write something personal. Be concise, be polite and make sure he knows what you think. I use www.writetothem.com – go get ’em!

My letter is as follows. I’ll post any replies and correspondence as a comment.

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Dear Mel Stride,

I hope this finds you well but unfortunately many of my fellow constituents, colleagues and friends and many more in Great Britain will be less well as a result of the vote today on tax credits.

The voting figures suggest a party whip rather than a free vote so I guess many of your party’s MPs will have voted for something which pulls the rug out from many of their constituents, something which will leave children hungry and the poorest cold this winter.

I understand that tax credits subsidise low wages and also rising rents but cutting them before tackling wages and rents is cruel, irresponsible and frankly heartless. Many will accuse the Conservative party of being out of touch, of being detached from the realities of life in modern Britain and who could blame them? Can an MP or member of the Lords appreciate what it is like to have to survive (and I don’t use that word lightly) on low wages as the cost of living continues to rise?

This change of the tax credit thresholds is targetting those who need help, it’s going to cut the incomes of single parents and families already struggling to make ends meet and the dependence charities and foodbanks will most surely increase.

For one of the world’s richest economies that is quite simply disgraceful and those pushing ahead with the austerity measures; measures based on idealogy rather than evidence should be ashamed of themselves.

Yours sincerely,

Rich Mills