Fresh uncertainty for Rotherham steelworkers after HMRC issues winding-up petition

STEELWORKERS in Rotherham face fresh uncertainty after tax inspectors filed court papers against the owner of the town’s biggest steel plant.

Struggling Liberty Steel looked to have a more hopeful future last autumn after owners GFG Alliance announced refinancing plans and said they would restart the mothballed furnace at the Aldwarke works.

But it emerged today that HMRC has served a winding-up petition on the speciality steels arm of Liberty, which employs at least 600 people in Rotherham.

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The town’s MP, Sarah Champion, described the news as “deeply concerning”, adding: “‘Steel production is hugely important to Rotherham.

“Liberty is a key part of our local economy, both through those directly employed in steel production and for those connected to its supply chain.

Workers will be understandably worried, and I will be doing all that I can to support them.

“It is vital that the Government engages productively with Liberty to reach a solution that both stabilises the business in the short-term and ensures its long-term viability.

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“Both Liberty and the Government must also provide immediate reassurances to workers who are concerned for their livelihoods at what is already an incredibly challenging time.

A Liberty Steel spokesperson said: “Our priority has been to protect thousands of jobs in the UK.

“We are committed to repaying all our creditors and continue to work with all stakeholders around the UK to create a sustainable future for our businesses following the collapse of Greensill Capital. 

“Against a very challenging backdrop in the UK with record high energy prices and imports, we have provided tens of millions in funding to keep our people in employment and maintain operations to serve customers and strategic supply chains while we complete our refinancing.

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“We are in continuous dialogue with all our creditors including HMRC to find an amicable solution that’s in the best interest of all stakeholders.

“Short term actions that risk destabilising these efforts are not in anyone’s interest, and undermine creditor recovery at a critical stage in our debt restructuring efforts that seek to secure the future of our businesses.”