HomeBusinessThe Tata steel rescue is a reminder the UK needs an industrial...

The Tata steel rescue is a reminder the UK needs an industrial strategy – not just piecemeal funding | Business News

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch has had a busy week.

It started on Monday with a £75m cheque to BMW to secure 4,000 jobs tied to future production of electric Minis at its Oxford plant.

It ends with a £500m subsidy to sweeten the decarbonisation, by Indian industrial giant Tata, of its Port Talbot steel plant – a move that may in time cost 3,000 jobs, as new electric arc furnace technology is lower on manpower, as well as emissions.

As a consequence, unions have slammed the deal because it sustains steel production in South Wales but not all the jobs it currently supports.

Ms Badenoch may feel that smacks of ingratitude, given the price of doing nothing might have been the loss of all 8,000 workers in Tata’s British operations, but she’s not the first business secretary to discover that propping up the steel industry is a thankless task.

Steel is often defined as a strategic industry, one in which the UK needs security of supply in order to have control of building our bridges, buildings and defences – but it has always come at a cost.

The industry has been through two cycles of nationalisation and privatisation since the Second World War and today production is in the hands of foreign corporations, Indian-owned Tata and the Chinese Jingye, which owns what remains of British Steel.

Both want government support to invest in their plants, a request ministers find almost impossible to resist when symbolic jobs are at stake.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player