SSI Update: Government Minister Speaks After Meeting In Redcar
Government Business Minister Anna Soubry has spoken this lunchtime (Friday 2nd October) outside Redcar & Cleveland Council offices.
She announced the Government’s £80 million compensation package to steelworkers, but was unable to offer hope of a last minute rescue plan for the stricken steelworks.
When asked what form the proposed compensation package would take, she said part of the £80 million would be taken up by redundancy payments, but the majority would be directed towards re-training for new skills and incentives for self-start ups.
The Minister was keen to deflect any blame for the plant’s closure from the Government and onto the Thai parent company SSI, which, it emerged had put a rehabilitation order on the works and that three Thai banks have stepped forward as the main creditors of the debt stricken factory.
Soubry expressed her irritation at the parent company for not disclosing the true picture of the plant’s finances, saying: “Meetings should have been taking place nine months ago” but denied the Government was to blame. “As each stone is unturned, new creditors keep popping out" said an exasperated Minister, who added that she was shocked to discover as late as Monday, that the employers’ liability insurance had not been paid and that she had been forced to contact the factory’s insurers to extend the cover.
The Chair of the SSI Task Force and Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Amanda Skelton has issued this statement:
“The Task Force met today for the first time since SSI announced plans this week to mothball the steelworks in Redcar. We were joined by the Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Business Minister Anna Soubry, which reflects the seriousness of the impact on our local economy. We have a group of very committed and passionate representatives on the Task Force with a shared commitment to do everything possible to help the people and communities affected.
We are extremely saddened by today’s news that the company is now being liquidated. Our immediate priorities are site safety and putting in place early support for the SSI workforce and others directly affected. The £80m announced today is very welcome and will help us deliver the support needed for local people and businesses.
Talks are taking place at the highest level to make sure all aspects of the site are managed safely. Our urgent focus is on the people affected and we are launching a full scale response on site next week. All the agencies involved are working together to provide a single approach and guidance to the workforce on future job opportunities, advice about financial worries and more general health and wellbeing support for the workers and their families.
Other members of the Task Force are assessing the needs of the supply chain and developing a wider economic recovery package to support our communities in the long-term.”