Tuesday, March 1, 2022

News: Rotherham MP urges Business Secretary to get HMRC back around the table with Liberty Steel


Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey has called on the Business Secretary to ensure HMRC get back around the table with Liberty Steel after the company was recently hit with a winding up order.

The company, part of Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, employs hundreds of staff in South Yorkshire, including in Rotherham. GFG underwent a restructuring and transformation drive following the collapse of its main lender Greensill Capital.

In a letter to Kwasi Kwarteng MP – Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – Healey reinforced the importance of the steel industry to both the local and national economy.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) issued a petition to have the speciality steel company wound up and in the letter, Healey said: "The Government's action raises serious concerns about Liberty's steel-making future in South Yorkshire and is highly unsettling for workers in Rotherham who yet again face hughe uncertainty about their future.

“Steel is a backbone industry for the UK economy and UK sovereignty…I therefore write to urge you as Business Secretary to ensure HMRC get back around the table with Liberty to reach a repayments agreement and avoid the risk of Liberty being forced out of business by the Government.”

Liberty completed a £100m deal to acquire the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel UK in 2017. As part of its most recent restructuring, Liberty said that it would look to sell its aerospace and special alloys steel business in Stocksbridge, Sheffield but retain its electric arc furnace at Aldwarke in Rotherham.

In October, Liberty Steel restarted production in Rotherham, following an injection £50m of shareholder funds into the business, which it said was running as normal with funding for growth in working capital approved through Liberty Capital. It was restarting operations at night to maximise efficiency and mitigate high energy costs.

Helaey said in his letter: "Liberty have made welcome investments in our Rotherham steelworks, despite the continuing failure to secure long term refinancing following the collapse of Greensill. Senior directors tell me that the UK is now the number one priority - ahead of their Eastern European business - for refinancing and that good prgress is being made. Of course, the jury remains out on whether fresh investment will be secured but this is made harder by HMRC's winding up order."

The letter also states that Liberty is saying that it has "not missed any regular payments to HMRC and is committed to reaching an agreement over repayment of back-tax in a way that also protects hundreds of steel jobs in the UK."

Liberty Steel website

Images: Liberty Steel


Anonymous,  March 3, 2022 at 9:33 AM  

I am not a fan of nationalisation but the core industries like steel manufacture, defence, utilities supply and power generation should not be in the hands of those seeking to asset strip or shut down.

If the events of the last few weeks have shown us anything the ability to be self sufficient in these areas is essential. The government should give Mr Gupta a single £1 and move him on.

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