Government 'open' to taking large part of UK steel industry into public ownership

"It looks bleak, but Tata is trying to sound optimistic" Credit: ITV News

The steel industry has repeated asked the government for a firm commitment to time-limited, life support for the British steel industry. Tonight it looks like they've got it.

The government continues to insist the renationalisation of what's left of Tata's British business is "not the answer", but the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, has now pledged a willingness to "co-invest" in an attempt to encourage investors to come forward.

Taxpayer's money is being offered up in the form of loans. The government is prepared to go further indicating it would consider taking a minority stake in the business as a "last resort".

The government insists this is not nationalisation.

Don't be fooled by the semantics, it is an openness to the idea of taking a large part of what remains of Britain's steel industry into some form of public ownership however limited and temporary - something previously looked off the table.

The significant change in position suggests a sense of urgency.

Tata has today signed a binding agreement with Greybull Partners to take on its long products business and the 4,400 people who work at sites in Scunthorpe, Teeside, Workington and York.

The rest of Tata's British business - which employs more than 11,000 people, two thirds of them in Wales - looks a harder sell. It's loss-making, in debt and the old British Steel pension fund is in deficit to the tune of £500m.

Tata has put the business up for sale, it hasn't said how long it's prepared to wait for a buyer to be found