SNP search for steel industry answers after job losses

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn made a visit to Tata Steel's Scunthorpe site yesterday. Picture: PA
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn made a visit to Tata Steel's Scunthorpe site yesterday. Picture: PA
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The Scottish Government’s steel taskforce yesterday indicated it was looking at lowering business rates to stimulate the industry following the loss of 270 jobs.

Energy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the urgent priority of the taskforce was to find an alternative operator for the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants

We definitely welcome the more hands-on approach that is being taken for the industrial strategy. That is to be welcomed not just at the steel plants at Clydebridge and Dalzell, but for the industry as a whole

John Park of Steel Union Community

The taskforce also agreed to examine cutting operating costs and consider public procurement of steel. It also said it has a prospectus to take to potential operators around the world to seek out untapped businesses and investors.

Union leaders, representatives of Tata Steel, South Lanarkshire Council and Government officials took part in the meeting held in Hamilton.

Mr Ewing said: “Today’s first meeting of the taskforce was a chance for all members to agree that our primary focus is to secure an alternative operator for the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants and retain as many jobs as possible.

“The Scottish Government has been looking urgently at what more we can do to help, on issues like business rates, energy efficiency and generation, how to cut operating costs at the plants and considering the public procurement of steel in our forward infrastructure investment programme.

“In addition, Scottish Development International now has a prospectus to take to potential operators around the world, to seek out and connect with untapped businesses and investors. All members of the taskforce agreed we will not give up on our steel industry and we will work urgently across all fronts to meet our aims.”

The Scottish job losses were announced earlier this month by Tata.

The losses, which will effectively end Scotland’s steelmaking tradition, were part of an overall package that will see 1,200 jobs go from Scotland and the company’s Scunthorpe plant.

Last night, John Park of steelworkers union Community, said: “The business rates issue is something that a number of companies have raised before. They look at international comparisons and what similar companies pay in Europe.

“We definitely welcome the more hands-on approach that is being taken for the industrial strategy. That is to be welcomed not just at the steel plants at Clydebridge and Dalzell, but for the industry as a whole.”

Mr Park said reducing energy costs should also be a priority, arguing that industry should receive swifter compensation for the changes required to ­lower the amount of carbon emissions.