Liberty Steel nationalisation ‘an option’ to save jobs

The government has restated it is considering “all options” to keep Liberty Steel’s UK plants afloat including its sites in South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

On Sunday, the government rejected a request for £170m in financial support for the firm, which has plants in Stocksbridge, Rotherham and Scunthorpe.

But that is due to concerns about the “very opaque” structure of its owner GFG, a minister said.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government could not put money into a “black box”.

Mr Kwarteng told the BBC’s Today programme that Liberty Steel was “an important national asset” but that the structure of its owner was “very opaque” and “not helpful”.

“We are custodians of taxpayer’s money…and we feel that if we gave the (£170m) money, there was no guarantee the money would stay in the UK, and would protect British jobs,” he said.

Sanjeev Gupta, the head of Liberty Steel, said the firm had taken legal advice over how to recoup its debts
Danny Lawson /PA

Liberty Steel’s founder, Sanjeev Gupta, is trying to refinance GFG after its key financial backer Greensill Capital filed for insolvency earlier this month.

Mr Kwarteng said he wanted to see Mr Gupta’s plans “work through” before the government took any further action.

There are 5,000 staff employed at Liberty’s 12 UK sites. Mr Gupta’s empire employs 35,000 people worldwide.

Mr Kwarteng said “all options are on the table” to keep Liberty Steel jobs and plants going, including nationalisation.

“We think that the steel industry has a future in the UK,” he said.

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