Third update on progress to find new operator for Tata sites.
The Scottish Steel Task Force met in Hamilton today to discuss continuing efforts to find an alternative operator for Tata Steel's Dalzell and Clydebridge plants.
Chair of the Task Force, Business Minister Fergus Ewing said:
"The Scottish Steel Task Force remains focussed on finding an alternative operator for the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants and keeping as many jobs as possible.
"Scottish Enterprise and Tata Steel are vigorously pursuing commercial opportunities and discussions continue with potential investors around the world.
"We continue to consider how to create the most supportive business environment for any new operator in what is a challenging global steel market.
"There has been progress. On business rates, the Lanarkshire Assessor has confirmed that he will take into account the state of the steel industry for the next revaluation of the two sites in April 2017, which is a helpful step. In the meantime, we are open to options for reducing the rates liability, complying with state aids rules.
"Extensive work by Scottish Enterprise has revealed that energy costs could be cut by a third, with investment that could be recouped within a few years. In addition there is potential for renewable electricity generation and sale of heat from the plants. We also continue to press the UK Government to accelerate the Energy Intensive Industries compensation package.
"On procurement, we are working with the Welsh and UK Governments to ensure we have a joined up UK procurement strategy and have shared information with Tata Steel and unions on steel requirements for public sector projects.
"Skills Development Scotland has been working closely with unions and Tata Steel to ensure there is a tailored support package available for the workforce that takes into account skills and experience. PACE stands ready to help staff at both sites should it be required.
"The UK Government today updated members on the progress of its working groups which are looking at issues around the steel industry, all of which have Scottish Government representation.
"All members of the Scottish Steel Task Force are working constructively together to achieve our primary aim of finding an alternative operator - while the goal remains challenging, a positive outcome is still possible."
PACE (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment) is the Scottish Government's national strategic partnership framework for responding to redundancy situations.
The Scottish Steel Task Force brings together key partners to co-ordinate the development of a joint, multi-agency Economic Recovery Plan to mitigate the economic impacts to the area resulting from Tata Steel's announcement. The Plan will:
• Work with Tata Steel and trade unions to secure a future for the Scottish sites, continuing the work that has already started to evaluate the business and identify potential efficiency savings, training support and market opportunities;
• Provide support and advice for the individuals employed at the site, and working in the supply chain, to maximise each individual's opportunity to secure alternative employment, should this be required
• Provide support to the communities impacted by the current uncertainty and potential future job losses
• Assess the economic infrastructure of the local area, to identify whether any improvements can be made to support economic development
• Consider additional area regeneration activity, alongside the existing Ravenscraig Masterplan to support local economic regeneration and recovery