UK Steel Industry Begs Government for Extra Energy Subsidies to Save Jobs
Wholesale gas prices have more than doubled in recent weeks amid speculation over demand following last year's exceptionally cold winter and recent moves to renewables — despite the looming debut of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia.
The UK's steel industry has gone cap-in-hand to the government for a rise in its energy subsidies amid a Europe-wide price surge.
Industry body UK Steel urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government to "bang ministerial heads together," claiming "We don't have that luxury of time" to save jobs.
Executive director Gareth Stace told Sky News the sector needed a temporary increase to "shield" it and its 31,000 remaining employees
"If the government doesn't step in, then how many of those jobs will it see go and then cause a bigger bill for the taxpayer going forward if these people that currently work in the steel industry are out of work?" Stace asked.
Prices on the gas futures market have more than doubled in recent weeks amid speculation over demand following last year's exceptionally cold winter and recent moves to less-dependable renewables.
Ailing Liberty Steel announced on Sunday it was investing £50 million to restart production at its Rotherham plant.
10 October 2021, 15:32 GMT
Also on Sunday, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng stressed that industry was already benefitting from a government energy subsidy — but added that his department was working with the Treasury on new measures.
An unnamed Treasury official later denied to Sky that assertion, saying: “This is not the first time the BEIS Secretary has made things up in interviews". But the source was contradicted on Monday by Downing Street and a junior minister.
"As you would expect, ministers from BEIS are working across government, including with Treasury, on this important issue, the challenges that are currently facing industry in light of global gas prices, and that will continue," a Number 10 spokesperson said.
"These unnamed sources stories come out from time to time," Securities Minister Damian Hinds said. "The fact is government departments, government ministers, talk to each other the whole time … [this] is something that the Business Secretary, and of course the Energy Secretary, is going to be totally focused on".