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Cable: 'Don't scapegoat China for UK Steel meltdown'

Sir Vince Cable Credit: PA

China should not be made a "scapegoat" for the collapse of the UK's steel industry, Sir Vince Cable has said, accusing the Treasury of holding back with financial assistance that could help relieve pressures.

The Liberal Democrat former business secretary said David Cameron should urge action from Beijing to curb production and noted there was a technical question to be examined over whether China was guilty of illegal "dumping".

But he insisted there had been "endless problems with steel" unrelated to China while he was in government that ministers had some power to alleviate.

There is a technical issue about dumping which is a legal question that you have to prove they are selling below cost.

But the bigger issue is that they have massive excess capacity because they are trying to rebalance their economy.

What we should be saying to the president - and I hope Mr Cameron makes this point - is: if you want to be world economic citizens - and they clearly do as a superpower - you really have to take account of the rest of the world and you've got to restructure your own steel industry and lay off some of your own capacity.

That would take some of the pressure off us. But you can't make the Chinese the scapegoat."

– Sir Vince Cable
Steel company near Shanghai Credit: ITV News

Sir Vince added he had endless problems with steel when he was in the government, before this China problem erupted, because energy costs were too high.

He says got the European Commission gave permission to compensate, but he understands The Treasury is sitting on the money.

The commission last year cleared a UK plan to compensate certain energy-intensive industries - including steel - for higher costs resulting from its carbon price floor under state aid rules.

Sir Vince said Chinese investment was welcome - so long as it helped British suppliers.

I would welcome Chinese investment in the nuclear power industry - you have got to have safeguards. But you'd insist that the Chinese develop a supply chain here of British producers.

If they want to invest in these new railways, well great, providing they give an undertaking they'll get a lot of their stuff from the rail factories in Derby and Durham.

That's why you have the industrial strategy we had under the coalition. I don't know what's happened to it since."

– Sir Vince Cable


Middlesbrough Council opens advice centre for steelworkers

SSI steelworks at Redcar. Credit: PA

Middlesbrough Council is creating a temporary advice centre in the town to help residents who have been affected by the closure of the SSI plant at Redcar.

It will open Middlesbrough House on Corporation Road from 8.30am today (October 21) and Wednesday October 28 for steel workers and contractors.

They will receive help and advice on making welfare claims as well as guidance on how to apply for other support and benefits.

Middlesbrough House is usually closed on Wednesday mornings so the extra opening hours are aimed solely at helping those affected either directly or indirectly by the steelworks closure.

PM needs to do more to stop Chinese 'steel dumping'

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of the steelworkers’ union, Community, has said the Prime Minister needs to do more to stop Chinese steel dumping.

His comments came as Chinese Premier Xi Jinping flies into the UK as the news that steel company Caparo has gone into administration threatening 1700 jobs.

135 jobs at the Hartlepool site are under threat - even though staff have been told to go into work 'as normal' while the company reviews 'its options'.

It comes after SSI UK went into administration at the beginning of this month with the loss of 2, 200 jobs at their Redcar plant on Teesside.

Roy Rickhuss, eneral Secretary of the steelworkers’ union, Community Credit: Dave Higgins/PA Wire/Press Association Images

“The Prime Minister needs to do more than ‘raise’ the issue. He needs to tell the Chinese Premier what action he’s going to take to stop Chinese steel damaging the future of a vital foundation industry in the UK.

He needs to tell them that infrastructure projects will not be at the expense of UK industry and communities.

And he needs to tell UK steelworkers today when his government is going to bring forward the compensation package for energy intensive industry.”

– Roy Rickhuss, eneral Secretary of the steelworkers’ union, Community

Schoolboy organises Christmas party for steelworkers' children

Ben Hebden. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A schoolboy has taken it upon himself to arrange a special Christmas Party for the children of the now redundant SSI steelworkers from Redcar.

9-year-old Ben Hebden goes to Westgarth Primary School in Marske.

He's had more than 500 likes on the facebook page he's set up and is fundraising to host the party for the steelworkers and their families.

Nine year old Ben Hebden heard about the job losses at the SSI steel plant and felt he had to do something about it.

It made me feel a bit devastated for them because usually they might have been thinking we're going to get you this, we're going to get you that - that'll be nice for everyone and hopefully I'l get this.

But now they've lost all their money they probably wont be able to afford all they wanted.

– Ben Hebden

With the help of other pupils he's set up a Kids Committee to arrange the event - raising more than £500 already the food, entertainment and venue already booked.

They have enlisted the help of a local party planner called Silly Steve who will DJ and organise other activities.

His teachers are very proud of Ben's achievements.

I think it's absolutely fantastic really on what's a sad circumstance and that a boy in year five has taken it upon himself to see the sadness in that and try to do something good for it.

It's a wonderful thing - we're very proud of him.

– Matthew Carlton, Westgate Primary School


Unions react to Caparo administration

GMB, the union for steel workers, responded to confirmation by PwC that steel firm Caparo Industries has gone into administration.

This is even more bad news for our members and their families. David Cameron needs to button hole Chinese President Xi Jinping, while he is in London with his 900 strong entourage, to get a stop to dumping Chinese steel in the UK below the costs of making it.

Amber Rudd needs to get on with the energy compensation scheme. Only Government has the power to act. Without immediate action the position facing steel workers is dire.

– Joe Morgan, GMB Regional Secretary for West Midlands

This news is another devastating blow to Britain's steel industry. Caparo's workforce produce high quality finished steel products and has been battling against an increasingly challenging global market.

The loss of 1,800 jobs would have a serious impact on the communities around Caparo's workplaces. This news is a tragic reminder of the urgent need for government action to help our steel industry survive. Crippling energy costs and the dumping of cheap Chinese steel is threatening the very future of the UK's steel sector.

We will be working to support our members within Caparo at this difficult time and are seeking an urgent meeting with the company to understand exactly how this announcement will impact the workforce.

This is an industry wide crisis. It is vitally important that Britain’s steel companies hold their nerve and that government works with unions and the industry to build a sustainable future for UK manufacturing with steel at its heart.

– Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, the steelworkers' union

Hartlepool jobs at risk as another steel firm goes into administration

Steel firm Caparo Industries plc has confirmed the company has gone into administration, putting 134 jobs at risk in Hartlepool.

There are two Caparo divisions in the North East, Caparo Foundry & Forging Europe and Caparo Testing Technologies.

They are based at a site in Hartlepool, where activities include the forging and pressing of metal products for aerospace, automotive and other industries.

Administrator PwC has confirmed to ITV Tyne Tees that both fall under Caparo Engineering Ltd, which is on a list of 16 companies within the Caparo Industries group that are confirmed as under administration.

A spokesman stressed that all workers are still being paid and should go to work as normal while the company reviews all options, including selling the business.

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