Institute for Design and Economic Acceleration, BCU IDEA, drives new Steel Taskforce …


The Institute for Design and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) and West Midlands Economic Forum (WMEF) have joined forces calling an emergency meeting to support the UK Steel industry.

The aim is to set up a Steel Taskforce in light of latest news about Caparo in administration with 1700 jobs on the line and the impact of this on the Midlands Engine.

This news comes on top of 4000 jobs losses in Britain’s steel industry over the past month, with WMEF calculating that some 260,000 jobs in the Midlands are either solely or partly dependent on steel.

IDEA Birmingham is holding a Midlands Steel Taskforce meeting, Friday 23rd October, BCU Parkside, 3.30-5pm to develop a strategy and action plan to support Midlands’ operators dependent or connected with the steel industry and promote information about international competitive pressures on more widely. Tata Steel Europe Chief Executive, Dr Karl Koehler commented (Daily Telegraph, 21.10.15) on the impact of cheap Chinese imports calling for measures to stop dumping, stating, “UK steel is struggling for survival in the face of extremely challenging market conditions. This industry has a crucial role to play in rebalancing the UK economy, but we need a fairer system to encourage growth.”

Speaking about competition for international market share, Andrew Thorpe, MD Thorpe Lighting said, “Chinese imports on finished commercial lighting fittings into the UK pay an import duty set by the EU of 2.7%. If we want to export similar products the import duty is 20% into China. Copyright and protection of our IPR is an issue. Google “landwind” and have a look at this Chinese made product that is nothing to do with Land Rover. We need to wake up and start tackling issues that are within our reach if we exercise ourselves and stand up for what we have invested in and built up over many years.”


Beverley Nielsen, Director IDEA said, “If we are serious about rebalancing the UK economy it is time we understood more explicitly the interconnections within our supply chains that enable companies based in the Midlands to compete internationally. If we look at the steel industry in isolation we might just shrug our shoulders and say ‘that’s international markets, there’s nothing we can do’. But if we think creatively, disruptively, and understand the many parts that make up our Midlands ecosystem then we may decide that it’s time we stood up for our businesses and the many people in them that make them work.”

The meeting will be joined by up to 20 industry practitioners, support and lobby organisations including Rachel Eade, MBE, National Automotive Lead, Business Growth Service, Paul Forrest, WMEF, Beverley Nielsen, BCU IDEA, Prf Steve McCabe, Birmingham City Business School and Prf David Bailey, Aston University Business School. Attendance list attached:

Midlands Steel Taskforce, IDEA Birmingham
Birmingham City University Parkside, 3.30pm 23rd October 2015
Rachel Eade, MBE, National Head of Automotive, Business Growth Service
Paul Forrest, Director, Midlands Economic Forum
Prf David Bailey, Business School Aston University
Bhanu Dhir, Head of Policy and Business Growth, Black Country Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Simon Topman, DL, CEO Acme Whistles and Chairman, Millennium Point
Nigel Goulty BIS West Midlands (TBC)
Steve Parker, Chairman, BC FSB
Paul Mountford, Economic Regeneration Manager (Business), Economic Regeneration & Skills Division, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Henrietta Brealey, Director Policy, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Katie Judge, Executive Officer, GBSLEP
Jim Cunningham Director, Black Country Growth Hub (TBC)
Wayne Langford Black Country Consortium TBC or member of team
Phil Peak, Growth Hub, CWLEP
Prf Steve McCabe, Business School, BCU, IDEA Birmingham
Assoc Prof Parmjit Chima, IDEA Birmingham
Don Dhaliwal, Associate Director, IDEA Birmingham
Beverley Nielsen, IDEA Birmingham

NOTE: Reporters from Wolverhampton Express & Star, Birmingham Post, Booom TV will be present