LEP welcomes Government steel support

Published 7th January 2016 at 2:49pm

Sheffield City Region LEP has welcomed the news that Government funding will be made available to support those affected by Tata Steel restructuring and job losses.

Rotherham Council leader and LEP Board member Councillor Chris Read welcomed the confirmation by Ministers that almost £2 million of Government funding will be made available to support those affected by the restructure and job losses recently announced by Tata Steel.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has confirmed up to £1.5 million to support specific training and accreditation for affected steel workers through local further education colleges, to be developed in conjunction with the national Skills Funding Agency.

A consolidated plan to secure a support package of around £9 million was put together by Rotherham Council supported by Sheffield City Region (SCR) partners and Rotherham’s three MPs and submitted to Government in late December.

It combined locally-driven support packages – such as training and development for those at risk – with a call for the Government to invest and give more support to the steel and other industries struggling to compete in the face of unfair imports, uncompetitive energy costs, business rates and the strong pound.

A local task force is shaping the plan, with input from Rotherham Council, the SCR LEP, the SCR Combined Authority, UK Steel Enterprise, Government agencies including JobCentrePlus and the Skills Funding Agency, Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, trade unions and Tata Steel. The detailed plan proposes the creation of a Strategic Task Force to steer and co-ordinate its delivery, chaired by the Leader of Rotherham Council.

Tata Steelworks

Tata Steelworks

An additional £350,000 BIS funding has been confirmed and will be used to map the impact on supply chain businesses which will be hit by the Tata Steel announcement and to work with the companies to ensure the appropriate targeted support can be developed.

The Government has confirmed it is also considering a further request by partners across the SCR for a further £2.5 million in business support grants, but is awaiting the outcome of the mapping work and a review of the support already in place before making a final decision.  Representatives of the partners’ task group will meet with BIS officials in the near future to discuss next steps.

UK Steel Enterprise – the regeneration subsidiary of Tata Steel –  has pledged £1.55 million of extra funding for job creation, and the SCR Local Enterprise Partnership has indicated that supply chain businesses can access financial support, likely to amount to between £3 million and £4 million from its existing Business Investment Fund.

Cllr Read said:

“In very difficult circumstances, this is welcome news from the Government, accepting the case we made for extra funding to support the training needs of people facing redundancy from Tata.

“In addition to this, I am writing this week to hundreds of local companies who are involved in the supply chain to Tata, opening a conversation with them about what more can be done to help prevent the loss of more jobs as the knock-on consequences are felt in the wider economy. We continue to seek further Government funding to support this work, and will be pressing for our original bid of an additional £2.5 million for business support.”

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