Today in a debate on the steel industry in the House of Commons chamber, Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley demanded to know where the promised funding to support redundant steelworkers to start new careers is.
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“The training has just not arrived yet. We were promised £80 million, it turned out to be £50 million once you take out the redundancy and statutory entitlement that the workforce should have had.
We were told the local taskforce, which I was pleased to accept an invite to sit on, would have control of the funding but the reality is the decisions are being made by officials and we are waiting for the Secretary of State to clear the money and send it down.
I have had plenty of people coming to me and have a huge post bag from people who are not accessing the training and support that they need.
For example, Tom, an SSI apprentice who came to my surgery at the weekend. He has been an apprentice at SSI for 3 years and 4 months and wanted to finish it which he has worked hard to do. He was told by a DWP official to get a job in a bar or retail.
Carl told me he could not access Heavy Goods Vehicle training because it was not currently a barrier to him getting work.
Dave, an electrical engineer, was told he could only get training funding if he had a job offer to go with it.
Even more concerning to me is to hear that at the recent jobs fair Subway were there. It is deeply inappropriate for highly trained, highly skilled steelworkers to be offered jobs making sandwiches at Subway.”
In reference to Lord Heseltine’s recent comments that steel was yesterday’s industry, Anna said:
“There were 50 apprentices due to start when production at the Redcar steelworks was paused. This is a viable industry with a bright future. We should be encouraging our young people to pursue engineering and giving them the confidence that the government has an industrial and manufacturing policy that supports their futures.”