Belfast Telegraph

Steel plant closures will crush communities around UK, warns Archbishop of Wales

Communities across the UK will be "crushed" if steel plants close, the Archbishop of Wales has warned.

Dr Barry Morgan said the survival of the steel industry affected thousands of people and companies, adding that if banking was worth saving, so was steel.

Speaking to the governing body of the Church in Wales in Llandudno, Dr Morgan said the crisis affected many areas of the UK.

He added: "It raises the question of an industrial strategy for the UK, since steel is the foundation of the manufacturing base of this country and affects many other industries.

Dr Morgan, who is also Bishop of the Diocese of Llandaff, which includes Port Talbot, said: "I am not an economist but it is a fact that business rates in the steel industry in the UK are much higher than in other parts of the EU and energy costs per ton of steel made in the UK are more than double those of Germany.

"Other countries have imposed tariffs on imports and massively subsidised steel production.

"The danger is that if all steel-making plants are closed, once they are gone, the price of steel will increase and that will have far reaching repercussions on our economy and industry.

"It will be too late by then and people in places like Port Talbot, whose lives and communities have been shaped by the steel industry, will have been crushed.

"If the banking industry, which still does not fully appreciate the extent of its rescue, judging by the behaviour of some of its members, was deemed worth saving, surely it is worth securing a sustainable future for the steel industry in Wales and the UK."

Over 1,000 companies in the UK list one of their main areas of business as the manufacturing or casting of steel, said Dr Morgan.

He said a group of 16 people from Port Talbot's churches and chapels have formed a ministry team to help Tata's chaplain support people struggling with stress.

A debt advice centre has been set up in one of the churches and more food banks opened for the expected extra demand.