A STEEL maker supporting thousands of North-East jobs has resolved negotiations with a council over millions of pounds of unpaid business rates.

Bosses at SSI UK say they have reached an agreement with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council over £9m payments.

The move comes after the authority yesterday (Monday, February 17) released its budget papers, setting out future spending plans.

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The Northern Echo understands SSI's debt was central to the council balancing its books.

The Thailand-owned company, which runs the Redcar iron and steelworks, last year revealed it was working to extend repayment terms with local council chiefs and a number of suppliers to combat annual losses of £274m.

However, a spokesman confirmed it had reached an agreement as it looks to secure the plant's long-term future.

He said: “We have a payment schedule in place with the council and the matter is resolved.”

The council, along with others across the region, has seen its grant from central Government slashed, with leaders saying they need to cut £19.4m from its budget in the next three years, and £33.8m by 2020.

SSI employs about 1,800 North-East workers, supporting hundreds more posts in the supply chain, including roles at County Durham mining and transport firm Hargreaves Services, which supplies coke for the Redcar blast furnace.

The firm fired the Redcar blast furnace back into life in April 2012 after the Corus Teesside Cast Products plant was mothballed in 2010, costing more than 1,000 North-East jobs.

It last year opened a £38m pulverised coal injection plant capable of producing 3.4 million tonnes of iron every year.

Win Viriyaprapaikit, SSI group chief executive and president, previously told The Northern Echo the company was on target to return to profit this summer.

He said: “We regard this as a long-term project, lasting for at least another 20 to 30 years, and it's now attracting interest globally.”