First minister urges government to act on Tata Steel energy price concerns


UK government must act on Tata Steel’s concerns over high energy prices, according to First Minister Mark Drakeford.

He made the statement in response to Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata Sons group, saying the plant in Port Talbot needed to be ‘self-sustaining.’

Mr Drakeford also added that other counties allowed firms to pay less for energy.

In a press conference attended by the BBC, Mr Drakeford had said: “The UK government must attend to what the steel industry and other major manufacturers are saying about energy prices for large users of energy.

“The steel industry in Wales and in the United Kingdom is not on a level-playing field with steel industries in France and in Germany where their governments act to make sure large users of energy are able to secure that supply at costs that don’t put their industry in peril.

“That isn’t the case in this country, that is a UK government responsibility.”

Tata Steel’s pre-tax losses were £371m last year, up from £222m in 2017-18.

The company has previously said its UK energy bill was almost twice as much as its European competitors.

Mr Drakeford called on the UK government to convene a meeting of the Steel Council, adding: “It really was not good enough that the last meeting, which was the first in many months, was cancelled by the Secretary of State in the run-up to the general election.”

A UK government spokesman told the BBC: “We are committed to securing a prosperous and sustainable future for the UK steel industry.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and remain in regular contact with Tata Steel Europe, the unions and other partners.”

In November, Tata announced plans to cut 3,000 jobs across Europe.

Tata has two large steelworks in Europe: Port Talbot and IJmuiden Works in the Netherlands.