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Sheffield Forgemasters is nationalised to ‘secure supply of defence components’

Written by on 28/07/2021

One of the UK’s oldest steelmakers has been taken into public hands to secure the supply of components for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Sheffield Forgemasters International (SFIL), which plays a critical role in the supply chain of the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet, had endured years of financial struggles.

Sky News revealed earlier this month how a deal was set to be announced following six months of talks with officials.

The MoD said it was to pay £2.6m for the entire share capital of the company plus debt and it would invest up to £400m in the company for defence-critical plant, equipment and infrastructure over the next decade.

Sheffield Forgemasters International
Image: Sheffield Forgemasters dates back to the 1750s

Its statement said the aim was to maintain supply of product and, one day, return Sheffield Forgemasters to the private sector.

“SFIL is the only available manufacturer with the skills and capability to produce large scale high-integrity castings and forgings from specialist steels in an integrated facility to the highest standards required for these programmes.

“Furthermore, SFIL’s ownership will not prevent other UK based manufacturers bidding for MOD contracts, which will continue to be run in an open and fair competition.”

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The news was welcomed as a “huge sigh of relief” by Unite.

The union’s assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, said: “It brings to an end years of instability for this historic 215-year-old company, but is also a sign that government is maybe finally waking up to a crisis of its own making.

“Critical infrastructure industries like steel function better in public hands and advanced economies like our own need to have stable, secure domestic steel production capabilities to protect our national security interests as well as to
compete in global markets.

“We look forward to a secure future for the plant which brings with it the guarantee for both today’s workforce and the thousands of young workers to follow the hope of a highly-skilled job in a well-paid, unionised plant.”

 Sky News

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