Sheffield’s Labour MPs are keeping up the pressure on the Government to reach an early decision on the Forgemasters’ loan.

Today, on behalf of Sheffield Labour MPs – Paul Blomfield, David Blunkett, Meg Munn, Angela Smith and himself – Clive Betts MP (Sheffield South East) has written to Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, urging an early decision to confirm the previous government’s decision to award an £80 million loan to Forgemasters towards the procurement and installation of a new forging press.

The letter reads:
Dear Vince

It is with real concern that, as Sheffield MPs, we learnt of the Government’s decision to review a decision of the previous Government to support an £80 million loan to Sheffield Forgemasters, enabling them to purchase a major new forging press.

The purpose of the forging press – and the reason that the previous Government agreed to support its purchase – is to put Sheffield Forgemasters in a unique position to win worldwide contracts to produce essential parts for the replacement nuclear power stations that will be required internationally over the next few years. Linked to the Government investment in the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, it will provide the basis for the development of related manufacturing which will bring investment and new jobs to the local region. The press will also put Forgemasters in a unique position to gain contracts for other major castings, for example in the renewable energy sector.

As there is no other company, outside Japan and Korea, capable of producing forgings of such a size, any withdrawal of support for this loan will simply transfer the work and jobs abroad. It will also have the effect of taking work away from companies in the supply chain, such as Davy Markham which is also based in Sheffield, and remove the potential of increased export markets for these and other British companies.

Given the obviously long lead in times for such investment, and the fact that Forgemasters are already developing their plans on the basis of the previous Government’s support, it is absolutely essential that the Government not only come to a correct decision but a speedy decision as well. Indeed, Forgemasters are committing resources on the understanding that interim funding will be available very soon.

We look forward to a reply indicating that the support for Forgemasters will be confirmed.

David Blunkett said:
“The original application from Forgemasters went through a lengthy and detailed appraisal process. The decision of the previous Government to make the loan was taken after the investment in the project provided good value-for-money – for the government and the company, and for Sheffield and the UK. A positive decision to confirm this loan needs to be taken as quickly as possible.”

Paul Blomfield said:
“This loan levers in a massive amount of private investment – not just at Forgemasters, but at a large number of other manufacturing companies, such as Davy Markham, which would form part of the supply chain.”

Clive Betts said:
“Taken together with the considerable private sector and government investment in the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the investment at Forgemasters provides the basis for the development of cutting-edge manufacturing and new jobs in Sheffield and the local region.”

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