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Steel Industry

Volume 698: debated on Tuesday 6 July 2021

I thank the hon. Member for raising this important topic again after engaging in a recent Westminster Hall debate, and I know how passionately he cares about this subject. I know, too, that he will have welcomed the Government’s action on trade safeguards to protect our steel sector and jobs. We are also working closely with the Steel Council, reformed by the Secretary of State, on important matters such as decarbonisation, a sustainable future and procurement.

For as long as anyone can remember, steel MPs, trade unions and employers have been urging the Government to do something about industrial energy costs, and yet our steelworkers still face prices that are 86% higher than their French competitors, and that is after the Government’s compensation scheme has been factored in. With Ofgem planning to hike network charges even higher, what action is the Minister taking to block this potential hammer blow and to enable our steelworkers to compete on a level playing field?

Since 2013, we have provided more than £500 million in relief to the steel sector. On 14 June, we published a consultation on the future of the compensation schemes, which will close on 9 August. Network charging, however, is a matter for Ofgem as the independent regulator, and decisions on its targeted charging review are for it to make. Government continue to engage with Ofgem to inform our understanding of the reform’s policy implications.