1. ITV Report

Report: former SSI workers' continuing struggle

Many former SSI steel workers and their families are struggling financially, despite finding alternative employment, according to a new report.

The SSI Task Force, the organisation set up to help former steel workers in Redcar find employment, also highlights a number of successes as we approach the first anniversary of the plant's closure.

Around 3,000 people lost their jobs, both at the plant and in the supply chain.

The Task Force was handed £46m of government funding to provide support.

Some of this money went towards redundancy payments, and the rest was to be used to provide training support and other help.

The report notes that many families are continuing to struggle, even when the main breadwinner has found a new job, because the wages tend to be so much lower.

A key passage reads:

"Anecdotal reports suggest that many people who have found alternative employment have needed to take a significant salary reduction in comparison to former SSI wage levels...Many families have faced, and continue to be faced with, severe financial difficulties and have needed to access the Safety Net Fund to ensure daily household expenses and bills can be met."

The report does also stress more positive outcomes, such as the following:

  • Around 9 in 10 (1,990) of the 2,150 SSI and other workers who made an initial claim for benefits have since ended that claim*
  • Over 500 former SSI workers have not made any benefit claim to date
  • 821 new jobs have been created through the SSI Fund
  • 410 jobs have been safeguarded through the SSI Fund
  • 50 former SSI Apprentices were found training or employment
  • 418 people have been given initial individual advice as a first step to starting their own business and 172 new businesses have been started
  • 15,510 training courses have been approved
  • 2988 people received advice and support from Jobcentre Plus and Support Hub

“The closure of SSI was a devastating event for workers, their families and the wider community. Overnight, 170 years of steel making came to an end which resulted in mass unemployment, financial hardship and a shared sense of grief at the loss of our heritage. Since that time many people have worked hard to rebuild careers, lives and create new opportunities. The Task Force felt it was important to reflect on the progress made in the last 12 months. The report highlights some of the individual success stories of inspirational people who have been able to find new work, set up their own business and train for a new career. But we also recognise there is still much more to be done to rebuild our community and economy so that we can secure a sustainable future for our local area in the long term.”

– Amanda Skelton, Chair of the SSI Task Force and Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

“Growing up in Teesside, I know the closure of SSI had a huge impact on the communities of Redcar and the Tees Valley. Government assistance has supported the vast majority of those affected into new jobs, helped them set up new businesses or get the training to start on a new career path. This report shows the encouraging progress the Task Force has made so far, but Government is clear there is more we can do to support local growth in the area.”

– Greg Clark, Business and Energy Secretary

“The closure of SSI was clearly an incredibly difficult time for Redcar and the wider Tees Valley, but today’s report shows the real progress that’s been made just one year later. With a ground-breaking devolution deal and the new mayoral development corporation – the first ever of its kind outside of London – there is real cause for optimism for the region’s economic future.”

– Lord Heseltine