07 April 2016, The Tablet

To project jobs is possible and right


Whole communities have had their futures threatened because the owner of Britain’s main steel manufacturing plants, Tata Steel, has announced that it did not see a viable role for the British steel industry. Some 40,000 people are employed in the industry and many more are dependent on it. There are two main reasons – world over-production of steel, specifically in China where the surplus is a consequence of a slowdown in the Chinese economy; and the extra costs of British steel production compared with other plants abroad.

The British industry is losing a lot of money. But neither of those factors could be called “acts of God”. They come about because the Government has relied too much on global market forces to shape industrial investment and not enough on using the available levers to ensure the manufacture of steel continues to be sufficiently profitable. It has forgotten, until almost too late, that people need jobs and people come first.

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