Labour leader urges government to 'come out of hiding' and fix energy crisis ahead of Sheffield visit
Labour leader Keir Starmer urged government to ‘come out of hiding’ and ‘get a grip on the energy crisis’ ahead of a visit to a Sheffield steelworks.
Sir Keir said energy intensive industries were crucial to the UK’s economic recovery and hailed steel ‘a proud industry of our future’.
He was in Sheffield with shadow chanellor Rachel Reeves to visit Outokumpu Stainless in Tinsley.
Wholesale gas prices have soared 400 per cent this year, sparking protests and warnings of potential shutdowns and job losses in sectors including steel, glass, ceramics and paper.
The boss of Brass Founders in Sheffield, Paul Cheetham, said they were facing a four-fold increase in energy bills and would have to pass all of the costs on to customers due to already difficult trading conditions.
Mr Starmer called on government to take action to avoid a ‘winter crisis’.
He said: “Our energy intensive industries like steel are the cornerstone of British manufacturing and crucial for our economic recovery. Our steel industry is not simply a proud industry of our past but - with Labour’s £3 billion, 10-year commitment to make British steel green - a proud industry of our future.
“It’s crucial we get a grip on the energy crisis. With millions already feeling the pinch as energy prices rise, and businesses and jobs at huge risk, we should be supporting industry to stop this escalating into a winter crisis.
“Labour have been calling on the Government to come out of hiding and work with energy intensive industries, rather than finding a scapegoat for the problem. They should be convening task forces on a sector by sector basis to assess need in each sector, and devising bespoke solutions."
A BEIS spokesperson said: “We are determined to secure a competitive future for our energy intensive industries, which is why we have provided £2 billion in recent years to help with the costs of energy. Ministers and officials continue to engage constructively with industry to further understand and to help mitigate the impacts of high global gas prices.
“Some countries in Europe have lower industrial electricity prices in part because some costs are recovered from consumer bills. The Government is also reviewing its public procurement rules to better able to meet the needs of this country now we’ve left the European Union.”