Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband accused ministers of failing to help factories battling sky high power prices
Image: AFP/Getty Images)
Heavy industry has been “sold out” by the Government amid soaring energy bills, Labour warned tonight.
Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband accused ministers of letting down factories which use huge amounts of power in their manufacturing processes, such as steel, ceramic and glass firms.
Research shows 60% of the 415,000 British jobs in “energy intensive industries” are in “Red Wall” heartlands in the North and Midlands, he said.
Ministers are under increasing pressure to act as plunging temperatures threaten to hike demand for gas – potentially increasing prices and making it more expensive for companies which use electricity produced from gas-fired power plants.
Getty Images Europe)
Speaking before a visit to a glass factory in Yorkshire on Thursday, Mr Miliband said: “We need serious leadership to solve the energy crisis facing families and firms, but instead of action, companies and workers in communities across the North and Midlands are being sold out.
“The Government’s failure to have a plan that secures our energy supply has left our country dangerously exposed.
“The silence from ministers on support for energy intensive firms speaks volumes about what little value the Conservatives place in the future of these proud industries.”
Labour analysis of Nomis figures, provided by the Office for National Statistics, shows three out of five jobs in energy intensive industries are in the North and Midlands.
They include 59,000 posts in the North West, 54,000 in the East Midlands, 51,000 in the West Midlands, 50,000 in Yorkshire and The Humber and 22,000 in the North East.
Mr Miliband called on the Government to “guarantee” that “no business in energy intensive sectors will be allowed to fail, solely because of the current temporary increase in energy prices”.
British Glass technical director Nick Kirk said “continued high energy prices” were having a “very real impact on our sector”.
He added: “Glass manufacturers and other energy intensive industries have been dealing with the burden of extortionately high prices for far too long and, with no action, support or solutions from government in sight, our industry continues to suffer and face the real possibility of impacting the food and drink and construction supply chains.
“As the representative body for the glass industry, we will continue to support our members on this matter and we hope that following (Thursday’s) meeting, government will address our concerns and the pressing need for action to resolve the crisis.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We continue to support businesses with high energy use across the Midlands, North and whole of UK to cut their bills and reduce carbon emissions, including £315million of funding through the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund.
“Through our Energy White Paper, we are committed to building a secure, home-grown energy sector to reduce Britain’s dependency on fossil fuels and our exposure to volatile global gas prices.
“Ministers and officials continue to engage constructively and regularly with industry to understand and to help mitigate the impacts of high global gas prices.
“Our priority is to ensure costs are managed and supplies of energy are maintained.”