The steelworkers' union Community has welcomed the completion of the sale of Tata Steel's Long Products Europe business to Greybull Capital LLP. The new company will trade as British Steel.
"Community warmly welcomes the opening of this new chapter in the course of the UK steel industry. It also demonstrates that there is the chance of a brighter future for steel making in the UK, with the right vision and investment.
"British Steel is built on firm foundations with a skilled, experienced and dedicated workforce determined to make a success of the business. They have a proud track record of delivering high-quality long products to flagship construction and infrastructure products around the world. The turnaround plan agreed between management and unions is already yielding positive results.
"I want to pay tribute to Community's local union reps not just in Scunthorpe, but at Lackenby, Skinningrove and throughout the downstream operations. Their hard work and commitment to a sustainable future for steel has been key in getting us here today. Our members have also shown their commitment by the sacrifices they have made to back the plan and give the new business the best chance of success.
"Today marks the start of a new journey for UK steel making and there may be more challenges ahead. That's why it's vital that the government continues to take action to deliver on the promises it's made to the industry and to develop and implement an integrated industrial strategy and a long-term vision for UK steel.
"Today also brings to an end a long period of uncertainty for steelworkers within the Long Products business. From the first moment Tata put the business up for sale, we insisted that they be a responsible seller and allow time for the right buyer to come forward and for the deal to be completed. Tata has honoured that commitment with this deal but now they must do the same for the remainder of their UK operations and work with Community through the sales process."
Tata Steel has issued a statement confirming it will work under the name British Steel following the sale to Greybull Capital.
From today Tata Steel's Long Products Europe business, which in the UK includes the Scunthorpe steelworks, two mills in Teesside, an engineering workshop in Workington, a design consultancy in York, and associated distribution facilities, as well as a rail mill in northern France, will trade under the name of British Steel.
All together the business employs 4,800 people – 4,400 in the UK and 400 in France. The sale follows an accelerated process of negotiations between Tata Steel UK and Greybull Capital to achieve this outcome.
“As a responsible seller, Tata Steel is delighted to have secured a buyer for this business and we hope that under Greybull ownership, the business will continue the momentum of the improvement program that has been initiated in the last 12 months.
“Employees and trade unions have worked closely with the Long Products Europe management team to improve the business’s prospects, putting it in a more competitive position than it has been for many years. It is through their dedication and hard work that we are in this position today in spite of continued challenges in the market".
Thousands of jobs have been saved at Tata Steel in Scunthorpe after its sale went through overnight. The plant was under threat of closure if owners Tata steel could not find a buyer. Investment firm Greybull Capital agreed in principal to buy the steel giant's long products division last month. The deal has now been confirmed.
The Government needs to invest more in building up skills and industry in the so-called 'northern powerhouse' cities, according to a report.
The Centre for Cities thinktank says Leeds and Sheffield are 'underperforming' in economic terms - by around 40 per cent - in comparison with their European counterparts.
The report says simply building better transport links between our northern cities, such as HS3, is not enough.
“We can’t build a successful Northern Powerhouse without stronger, more productive cities.
''The Government’s initiative has the potential to have a huge impact in addressing the North/South divide, but only if it maintains its original focus of boosting productivity in major Northern cities such as Leeds and Sheffield.
''These big urban areas have the most potential for growth in the region, but are currently underperforming, especially in comparison to cities in more successful areas such as the Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad areas.
“Instead of spreading limited monies and political focus equally across the whole region, national and local policy-makers should concentrate most resources on addressing the economic challenges that big Northern cities like Leeds and Sheffield face, as these have greatest potential to deliver benefits for the North as a whole.”
The steel trade unions have welcomed the Government's consultation on changes to pensions law as part of efforts to save Tata Steel and called on the company to uphold its "legal, social and moral responsibilities" to steel workers.
In a combined statement, Community, Unite and GMB endorsed the move to avoid the "unmitigated disaster" of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) going into the financial safety net of the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF) with a sale of Tata's assets.
It is important that all stakeholders continue to explore all available options that avoid the need for the scheme to go into the PPF, which would be the worst deal for scheme members.
It is important to remember that Tata Steel remains the employer and sponsor of the BSPS. They have significant legal, social and moral responsibilities with regards to the British steel industry and those men and women who have worked and continue to work within it.
The Human Resources director for Tata Steel's European operations said the consultation would enable a "better outcome" for the vast majority of members of the BSPS.
We welcome the inclusion of an option to change the way that future payments in the scheme are increased. This option, which is fully supported by the pension scheme's trustees, provides a way for the scheme to continue to operate on a well-funded, low-risk basis indefinitely.
The British Steel Pension Scheme was set up on the basis that pension increases would be provided so long as they remained affordable. The proposed legislative changes would allow this unusual rule to operate as intended. That means it's unlikely that a regulatory change would affect other final salary pension schemes.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed the Government is set to launch an "open consultation" on changes to pensions law as part of efforts to save Tata Steel despite being "very wary of setting a precedent".
The consultation, which will run until June 23, sets out a number of different options for the British Steel Pension Scheme and its 130,000 members.
The scheme includes 14,000 people currently employed by Tata or another employer, 32,000 are deferred (no longer employed by Tata but below the scheme's normal pension age) and 84,000 pensioners.
The Government has been warned against the impact of setting a precedent by seeking to change pension law.
"No decision (on Tata's future) has been made," Mr Javid told MPs. "We are very wary of setting a precedent ... this is very much about this scheme and this scheme only in these very unique circumstances."
Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle warned against cutting the fund's long-term liabilities by benchmarking it to the consumer price index (CPI) rather than the higher retail price index (RPI), saying: "This change is currently illegal."
Ministers are considering changes to pension laws in an attempt to persuade Tata abandon its planned sell-off.Read the full story ›
Hull is to get an extra £3 million to spend on it's year as UK City of Culture.
The money, which will come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was announced at a breakfast gathering in Hull called to launch a series of events in the city this summer.
Martin Green, the man in charge of the city's cultural celebrations says it will mean a boost for local libraries.