Thursday, January 7, 2016

News: £1.5m Government funding for Rotherham steelworkers facing redundancy

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Ministers have confirmed that almost £2m of Government funding will be made available to support those affected by the restructure and job losses recently announced by Tata Steel.

The Indian-owned steelmaker recently confirmed that it was pressing ahead with a restructure of its speciality and bar business to focus on high-value markets such as aerospace - a move that has put 720 jobs are at risk, many in Rotherham.

Politicians, business leaders and unions have been working on a joint action plan in a bid to secure a £9m package to help individual workers facing redundancy and supply chain businesses likely to be hit hard in Rotherham and the whole city region, as well as supporting other local companies to create jobs.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has confirmed up to £1.5m to support specific training and accreditation for affected steel workers through local further education colleges, to be developed in conjunction with the national Skills Funding Agency.

An additional £350,000 BIS funding has been confirmed and will be used to map the impact on supply chain businesses which will be hit by the Tata Steel announcement and to work with the companies to ensure the appropriate targeted support can be developed.

The Government has confirmed it is also considering a further request by partners across the Sheffield city region (SCR) for a further £2.5m in business support grants, but is awaiting the outcome of the mapping work and a review of the support already in place before making a final decision. Representatives of the partners' task group will meet with BIS officials in the near future to discuss next steps.

UK Steel Enterprise – the regeneration subsidiary of Tata Steel - has already pledged £1.55m of extra funding for job creation, and the SCR Local Enterprise Partnership has indicated that supply chain businesses can access financial support, likely to amount to between £3m and £4m from its existing Business Investment Fund.

A local task force is shaping the plan, with input from Rotherham Council, the SCR LEP, the SCR Combined Authority, UK Steel Enterprise, Government agencies including JobCentrePlus and the Skills Funding Agency, Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, trade unions and Tata Steel. The detailed plan proposes the creation of a Strategic Task Force to steer and co-ordinate its delivery, chaired by the Leader of Rotherham Council.

Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said: "In very difficult circumstances, this is welcome news from the Government, accepting the case we made for extra funding to support the training needs of people facing redundancy from Tata.

"In addition to this, I am writing this week to hundreds of local companies who are involved in the supply chain to Tata, opening a conversation with them about what more can be done to help prevent the loss of more jobs as the knock-on consequences are felt in the wider economy. We continue to seek further Government funding to support this work, and will be pressing for our original bid of an additional £2.5m for business support."

Images: Tata Steel

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