Responding to the release of the 'One Year On' report by the SSI Taskforce, Labour MP for Redcar, Anna Turley, welcomed the progress made in the past 12 months but said 'more needs to be done to help those still looking for work'.
"The challenges Teesside has faced in the past year following the closure of Redcar blast furnace and coke ovens have been huge. As a community we have pulled together and I would like to first thank everyone involved with supporting the workforce over the past 12 months, including local businesses, colleges and training providers, the trade unions particularly Community, employment advisers and staff in other support agencies, local charities including MIND, and of course the Taskforce who have led the local response.
"It is clear from the Taskforce's report that some progress has been achieved in this year, putting in place training courses, securing redundancy payments and the protective award payments, setting up a Safety Net Fund for those who need emergency financial support, subsidising local businesses to take on ex-steelworkers and helping others to set up on their own. I would also like to mention Teesside Steel Appeal which helped many families get through a difficult Christmas.
"I am pleased that many people have found new work, including the young apprentices who were just starting out in their careers when the steelworks closed. But there are many people struggling and much more needs to be done to create more job opportunities to replace the work we have lost. The task to manage the steelworks is also still ongoing and the land still remains in the hands of the Official Receiver on behalf of the Thai Banks who stand in the way of regenerating the site.
"In Parliament this week I have tabled a number of questions to ministers on the future of the site and the environmental challenge it poses, I've asked for guarantees that any unspent funds in the Taskforce pot will not be clawed back by the Government, and I've requested assurances that Teesside does not lose out from withdrawn European Union funding after Brexit.
"I am also meeting with Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy this week, alongside council leader Sue Jeffrey, to discuss these issues further. I hope that as a Middlesbrough-born lad he will better understand the needs of our area, compared to his predecessor.
"The government's promise of a comprehensive Industrial Strategy needs to be translated into action, to support the rest of the UK steel industry in what continues to be a difficult global market and to support our other manufacturing industries to grow and expand.
"Teesside continues to have a lot of industrial potential and with the right support we can bring many more decent jobs to our area and truly regenerate our local economy. We are up for the challenge, I hope the government will be too."
Here is a list of the Parliamentary Questions tabled by Anna this week:
- To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer on 15th July, what assessment she has made of the public health implications of slag and metal contaminants in surface and ground waters at the former SSI site, and if she will make an assessment of a) the likely cost and b) the timetable for remediation of these contaminants that is required to enable future investment opportunities on the site.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what date his department will complete its longitudinal study into former employees of SSI UK, and if he will make a statement on the Government's outcome of the study.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that unspent financial resources from the Redcar Taskforce will be spent in the local community and not revert to central government.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the official receiver over the future of the former SSI UK site in Redcar since July 2016.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to negotiate a financial settlement with banks in Thailand which have a controlling interest in the former SSI UK site to ensure redevelopment is possible in a timely manner for the benefit of the local community.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that there is trade union representation on the Shadow Board of the South Tees Mayoral Development Corporation.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the deliverability of the recommendations of the Heseltine report, and what timeframe his Department have allocated for their implementation.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what steps he is taking to ensure that when the United Kingdom has left the European Union Teesside is not disadvantaged by the withdrawal of current European Union funding.