Job losses due to energy crisis would be ‘unforgivable’, says Keir Starmer in Sheffield

The Labor leader criticized the government for “bickering” and failing to speak to industry as energy prices “soared”.

This follows 10 years of government failure “to get ahead of the problem,” he said, which has seen storage capacity collapse and the nuclear sector stagnant.

If this complacency resulted in job losses, it would be “unforgivable”, he added.

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Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Phantom Chancellor Rachel Reeves on a visit to a steelworks in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire

He said: “These are quality jobs in an important sector that still needs to be protected today and in the future. There is a real feeling that the government is not ready to have these conversations. “

Sir Keir addressed the media following a visit to the SMACC fusion workshop from Outokumpu to Tinsley. It recycles scrap metal to make “semi-finished” stainless steel products, including slabs, blooms and billets, which are sold to other companies that manufacture finished products.

Loans, grants or other support to energy-intensive industries were common in other countries “but not here,” added the Labor leader.

“We need an appropriate plan that must be part of a three-pronged plan for ‘safe, efficient and affordable’ energy,” he said.

Inside the Outokumpu SMACC fusion workshop in Sheffield.

Wholesale gas prices have climbed 400% this year, triggering protests and warnings of potential closures and job losses in industries such as steel, glass, ceramics and paper.

Mr Starmer said it was time to “diversify quickly”, adding that he supported the small modular nuclear reactors, which are being developed in Sheffield.

Phantom Chancellor Rachel Reeves said the UK has historically been at a disadvantage on energy prices compared to Europe, but the gap has “grown fivefold in recent months”.

The industry needs help to make it through the winter, but “the government is not even listening to them,” she added.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Phantom Chancellor Rachel Reeves observe a stainless steel manufacturing process during a visit to Outokumpu Stainless Ltd in Sheffield. Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire

Labor has pledged £ 3 billion to help the steel sector move closer to zero carbon by 2035. It has recognized the “huge benefits” for the country and for businesses, she said .

Some 280 people work at the Outokumpu site in Tinsley.

Doug Patterson, regional manager of Unite the union, said he might find it difficult to attract businesses if energy costs remain high – they are currently 60% cheaper in Europe. As a small part of a large group, management might look elsewhere for the best return on investment.

He added: “Without investment, any factory will look over its shoulder. The workforce is reasonably optimistic at the moment, they have been working most of their leave and there is visibility on orders around this time next year.

A KRESS transporter used to move the 100 ton ‘slag pot’ in Outokumpu, Sheffield.

But the sector needed action now, he argued.

He added: “Successive governments have failed to recognize the importance of steel, you cannot have a manufacturing industry without it.

“Otherwise, we are hostage to foreign supplies, as we are to energy from Russia.

Parts of the government have shown they are aware of the problems, he added.

“But if they have the ability or the strength to challenge Boris Johnson, we don’t know,” he said.

Mr Johnson previously said “it is not the government’s job to solve all problems”, referring to the gas price crisis and the shortage of truck drivers.

Warning sign at the Tinsley site in Outokumpu.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said she remains committed to working with industry and consumers to reduce costs and identify how they can be allocated in a way to encourage users to adopt behavior that promotes decarbonisation.

She added: ‘We are committed to securing a competitive future for our energy-intensive industries, which is why we have provided £ 2 billion in recent years to help reduce energy costs and protect consumers. jobs.

“Ministers and officials continue to engage constructively with industry to better understand and help mitigate the impacts of high global gas prices.

“Some countries in Europe have lower industrial electricity prices in part because some costs are recovered from consumers’ bills.

“The government is also reviewing its public procurement rules to better meet the needs of this country now that we have left the European Union.

Last week, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with representatives from energy-intensive industries, including steel, cement and chemicals, to discuss high global gas prices as part of his continued engagement with industry, she added.

She added: ‘Our recent and ongoing work to support energy intensive industries included providing over £ 2 billion since 2013 to make electricity costs more competitive.

“In 2020, this relief amounted to over £ 122 million in offsetting the cost of indirect emissions from the Emissions Trading System and Carbon Price Support Mechanism and over £ 400 million. £ in reduction of electricity costs associated with financing contracts for difference, renewable energy obligation and food. Prices.

‘The UK government has announced funding of £ 315million in the Autumn 2018 budget for the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, with funding available until 2025.

“The Fund helps energy-intensive companies reduce their bills and carbon emissions. Phase 1 of the program made up to £ 70million available over two separate application windows and companies were able to apply for support for energy efficiency deployment projects and efficiency engineering studies. energy and deep decarbonisation.

“Phase 2 was launched in September, with funding of around £ 220 million, to invest in energy efficiency projects but also to support the deployment of ‘deep decarbonization’ projects.”

The government previously announced a £ 250million clean steel fund that will support the decarbonization of the steel sector, supporting its transition to new low-carbon technologies and processes.

She added, “We have released details of a steel pipeline on national infrastructure, which is expected to require around 5 million tonnes of steel over the next decade. “

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.

Outokumpu fusion workshop.
Sir Keir speaks to the media in Sheffield.
Doug Patterson, Unite Regional Officer.

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