New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
19 January 2016updated 02 Sep 2021 1:52pm

What the government can do for Tata Steel

The loss of jobs will hit Wales hard - but the government can do more.

By Nia Griffith

Yesterday’s announcement that over 1000 jobs are to be cut from steel mills in Wales and England is devastating for the communities affected.

The vast majority will come from the Tata plant in Port Talbot, a major presence in the South Wales economy and a site which has employed some families for generations.

Job losses on this scale are always devastating, with each and every one a tragedy for the employee and their family, not to mention the knock – on effect on jobs in the local community, but it is a double tragedy when we know that so much more could have been done so much more quickly by the UK government to avoid today’s tragic news.

The industry has been very clear: it does not want hand-outs or any half-baked proposals for nationalisation. It wants a level playing field in order to survive in a highly competitive global environment.

Back in 2010, the Chancellor hit the industry with the punishingly high carbon tax, a tax unique to the UK, which is not paid by any of our competitors, inside or outside the EU. In spite of calls from the industry, trade unions and Labour MPs, and even promises back in 2011 from the Chancellor himself of help for the energy intensive industries, he only confirmed this help a month ago, and it is now looking very much like too little too late.  

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

The Conservative government has been wilfully slow to tackle the Chinese dumping of steel which is crippling the UK sector. The government has blocked EU reforms which would make it easier to keep Chinese steel out, and the government all but confirmed today that it is backing market economy status for China – a move to remove trade tariffs that will further intensify the pressure on our steel sector. It seems that George Osborne is far more interested in selling off British industries to China than challenging them on their uncompetitive practices as Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Eagle did during President Xi’s recent state visit.

At a time of low demand in the private sector, the British government should bring forward, not cancel or postpone, infrastructure projects, and make sure that we use British steel in them; that would help both the steel and construction industries, and keep up our skills base. The British government should sign up, as the Welsh government has done, to the Charter for sustainable UK steel, and ensure that British steel is used in publicly funded projects.

We will continue to need steel, and, with our highly skilled workforce and Tata’s recent investment in the new blast furnace in Port Talbot, there is every reason why that steel should be made here, but, to ensure that happens, we need urgent action from the UK Government to enable the UK steel industry to compete on a level playing field and secure a future for the UK steel industry.

Content from our partners
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce
How to reform the apprenticeship levy