Sheffield Forgemasters loan 'could be revisited' - Clegg

Image caption,
The coalition government cancelled the planned £80m loan to the company in June

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has told the BBC the decision not to loan money to Sheffield Forgemasters could be revisited.

The coalition cancelled an £80m loan to Forgemasters to build parts for nuclear power stations as part of a review of Labour's spending decisions in June.

But an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield, Mr Clegg said they could look again at such a project.

"I would dearly like to see us support it if we can," he said.

During the interview, conducted as part of a documentary looking at his year in politics, Mr Clegg said: "If Forgemasters want to return to a project like that, and if it works, and if we can do it, then we stand ready to try and revisit this and provide help."

He said the problem with the project had been the affordability from that year's budget.

"I don't think that money should have been promised in the way that it was," Mr Clegg, whose constituency is in Sheffield, said.

'Iconic company'

He said he would not be "second guessing" whether the company wanted to return to the project, but added: "It's a great, iconic company, it's done great, great things, and I would dearly like to see us support it if we can."

Business Secretary Vince Cable has previously said he would "entertain" a fresh loan application from Forgemasters.

A spokesman for Mr Clegg said there was no question of the government revisiting the original decision to cancel the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters but said it stood ready to look at any new proposal that the company might make.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), said: "Sheffield Forgemasters is welcome to apply to the Regional Growth Fund which is now up and running.

"The government is keen to see applications to the RGF which will enable the private sector to invest in projects that can create jobs and secure long-term growth."

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