Steel industry stands ready to support national effort, but requires government action to assure its future

1 min read

​The steel industry say it is committed to doing anything it can to support the national effort to tackle coronavirus. Whether that is adapting production lines to provide necessary components for hospital equipment, prioritising supply of specialist materials, or providing skilled workers for the manufacture of vital equipment.

But it adds a stark warning about the sector’s future. “In the absence of further major government interventions, a pro-longed shutdown of the UK economy will quickly become terminal for the steel industry, leaving tens of thousands of workers without a job to support their families. Critically, primary steel production sites do not have the flexibility to simply ‘switch off’ production without major long-term consequences,” reads a press release issued by UK Steel.

The organisation says it welcomes the measures already announced by the Chancellor to support business, but says: “We need details and more action over the coming days to ensure that our workers are supported and that they will have a business to come back to once this crisis is over. Our message is clear – nothing should be off the table at this time.”

Key recommendations are:

1.Introduce a ‘short-time working’ scheme, to financially support workers if companies need to reduce hours and production

2.Immediate provision of liquidity to businesses, in the form of loans or grants to cover operational and necessary capital costs. Usual state-aid restrictions must be relaxed here

3.Reduction of operational costs for businesses by suspension or deferment of key costs such as PAYE, NI, Business Rates, EU ETS, and other non-safety critical regulatory costs.