A missed opportunity for the steel industry

Today, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered the Autumn Spending Review.

Community is a steel union, and is the largest union in the steel sector. We have released a joint response with UK Steel:

“Today the steel sector needed to see steps taken by the Chancellor to address the UK’s vastly uncompetitive electricity prices and lay the groundwork for the decarbonisation of UK steel production. Sandwiched in between the Government’s Net-Zero Strategy and COP26, this Spending Review was the obvious time for action, but it is hard to see today as anything other than a missed opportunity.

Once again, the steel sector has been left high and dry by the lack of action on electricity prices from the government. The current energy crisis has seen UK steelmakers pay an additional £38m for electricity compared to German produced over the last 2 months, a significant worsening in what was already a major concern for the steel sector. In normal times, the gap with European competitors renders our sector uncompetitive. Currently, it risks hollowing out the UK steel sector and cementing barriers to sorely needed investment and decarbonisation. It beggars’ belief that the Government cannot see the long term picture here.

It is also hugely concerning that the Spending Review has not allocated funding to the Clean Steel Fund, the linchpin in the nascent steel sector decarbonisation plan, despite it being committed to previously by the government and cited numerous times at the Despatch Box. The Government need to urgently clarify the support available to the sector. Without tangible support for £billions of investments required by the sector, the Government’s industrial decarbonisation plan will be little more than words on a page.

The steel sector stands ready to play our part in modernising and decarbonising our industry and the wider economy, but we cannot do this without serious commitments from the Government, commitments that countless governments elsewhere are making. Sadly, this Spending Review represents a triumph of complacency on decarbonisation and threatens the very highly skilled, highly paid jobs that the government claims to champion.”


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