The Future of UK Steel: Hanging In The Balance

The steel industry has been facing a tough time in Britain. As the entire industry threatens to collapse, thousands of jobs are at stake.

If this all sounds like you’ve heard it before, then chances are you lived through the 80s. In that decade of Tory rule, Margaret Thatcher’s party dismantled several industrial mainstays in British life, causing violent clashes between miners and police.

For some, the demise of the steel industry has all the same component parts – a Conservative government, an ailing economy and the privatisation of vital public services.

However, one difference is noticeable between then and now – government intervention could still provide a solid lifeline for an industry that could flat-line at any moment.

Tata Problems

Tata Steel has been at the forefront of the steel industry’s problems, with increasing public pressure on the government to facilitate the sale and avoid a mass exodus from investors.

None of this means that there aren’t healthy sectors of the industry. One company that benefits from steel production is Invicta Fire Protection, who imbue their blast wall products with steel to improve flame protection for clients.

They’re one example of a success story in British industry, with a brand going from strength to strength and a widening roster of clients. What’s more, they’re proof that steel isn’t a dying industry.

An Uncertain Future

The future of the industry in the UK still, however, remains uncertain. Tata Steel, as of time of writing, has complained that the government isn’t doing enough to facilitate the sale of their steelworks.

The head of Liberty, Sanjeev Gupta, has made an offer for some of Tata’s assets, stating, "Liberty believes the UK steel industry can achieve long-term viability if based on an agile, sustainable, non-cyclical model."

A business shake-up isn’t just important – it’s vital.

£1 Million Pound A Day Losses

Tata have warned that it’s losing £1 million pounds a day and, if its losses continue, it won’t be able to keep its doors open for the sale of its assets.

According to the BBC, “Tata's Scunthorpe operation, which employs more than 3,000 people, has been sold to investment firm Greybull Capital for a nominal £1.”

With each passing day, the health of the steel industry will remain poor if no one makes a sale. Companies such as Invicta illustrate a pressing need for steel, and without a steelworks in the UK, the British economy won’t benefit from the dire need for this precious material.

Perhaps it’s a symptom of the failures of the free market which neoliberals champion, or perhaps it’s simply a case of poor management. Either way, the future of the steel industry hangs in the balance.