Steel in crisis: timeline and events in Parliament

Since the summer of 2015 the British steel industry has been in turmoil. Steel plants have closed, several steel manufacturing companies have gone into liquidation, and others have been restructured. There have been around 5,000 jobs lost in the industry, with redundancies across the country, most numerously in Redcar, Hartlepool, South Wales and Motherwell.

The reasons for this sudden decline are complex, involving local factors such as comparatively high energy costs in the UK, and global factors such as the enormous oversupply of steel, driven particularly by Chinese steel production, which accounted for 49% of the world total in 2014.

Parliamentarians have been active in raising the plight of the steel industry and making the case for Government action. The UK Government and the Governments of the devolved nations have responded with a number of policy initiatives intended to strengthen private sector confidence in the industry, ease some of the cost pressures felt by steel manufacturers and provide training for steel workers whose jobs are threatened.

The future of the UK steel industry remains unclear. The UK Government have stated that they are willing to take a stake of up to 25% in Tata Steel’s UK operations. Despite this, Tata have announced that they will cease all operations at their Port Talbot plant on the 28th May 2016 if they are unable to find a “viable buyer” for the plant.

UK steel crisis: time line of events and relevant Parliamentary events

Date Event Parliamentary business
2015 July 16 Tata announces job losses in South Yorkshire and West Midlands
September 17 Backbench business debate (Anna Turley)
September 28 SSI mothball Redcar plant
October 2 SSI goes into liquidation
October 2 Government announces package of support for Redcar steelworkers
October 12 Official Recover announces Redcar plant will close
October 13 Urgent question (Anna Turley)
October 15 Urgent question (Tom Blenkinsop)
October 16 Tata announces “significant reductions in workforce” at Scunthorpe, Clydebridge and Dalzell
October 16 UK Government Steel Summit involving Ministers, industry, union leaders and MPs
October 19 Caparo industries goes into administration with job losses in the West Midlands
October 20 Scottish Government establish steel taskforce Urgent question (Kevin Brennan)
October 28 Opposition day debate (Labour)
November 9 Steel discussed at EU Competitiveness Council
December 21 BIS Select Committee report published
2016 January 18 Tata announces job losses mainly at Port Talbot
January 18 Welsh Government establish steel taskforce Ministerial statement (Anna Soubry)
January 19 Adjournment debate (Anna Turley)
January 21 Backbench business debate (Stephen Kinnock)
 
January 23 Government response to BIS Committee Report
February 29 Opposition day debate (Labour)
March 3 Backbench business debate (on Welsh Affairs Committee report)
March 29 Tata steel announces intention to sell all UK steel businesses
April 8 Liberty House takes ownership of Scottish steel plants at Clydebridge and Dalzell
April 11 Greybull Capital announces it will buy the Tata long products division, based mainly at Scunthorpe, and change its name to British Steel
April 11 UK Government announce willingness to look at co-investing in Tata steel plants (particularly Port Talbot) Ministerial statement (Savid Javid)
April 12 Tata states that the Port Talbot plant will be closed unless a ‘viable buyer’ can be found by the 28th May Emergency debate (Labour)
April 19 Savid Javid attends OECD meeting to discuss over supply in the steel industry
April 21 UK Government states it is willing to take 25% stake in Tata Steel’s UK operations

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