Belfast Telegraph

Government urged to 'radically reshape' energy market

The Government is being urged to "radically reshape" the energy market to avoid more job losses in the steel industry.

A report by a group of MPs lays out a series of measures to help steel companies combat the dumping of cheap Chinese products, as well as the uncertainty of trade after Brexit.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel made a series of recommendations, including a call to ensure UK steel is used in public projects.

Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon, who chairs the group, said that after the closure of SSI's Redcar plant, and the year-long crisis at Tata Steel, it was clear that the steel industry is at a "crossroads".

He said: "The UK steel industry has been hamstrung by Government policies that place our steel industry at a significant disadvantage, by comparison to global competitors.

"It is a testament to the professionalism, skill and dedication of the workforce that the industry has been able to keep pace and continue to innovate, but without radical and urgent policy action the industry could be facing a future of perpetual crisis and decline.

"If we continue along the current path, characterised by a Government whose attitude can best be described as a toxic combination of incompetence and indifference, we will see the further decline of the industry and our communities."

The report calls for a review of business rates, measures to reduce the number of steel products exported for final processing, and help to improve workers' skills.

Mr Kinnock added: "By building an investment-friendly environment the Government will allow the UK steel industry to do more than survive, but to thrive.

"That is why the Government must remove the existing disincentives to investment posed by a punitive business rates regime and crippling energy prices."

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