FEARS are growing for the future of 2,000 North-East steel jobs after SSI in Redcar missed a series of debt repayments.

SSI, the Thai-based owners of the Teesside iron and steel works, has been hit by falling demand for the steel, with prices for the commodity plummeting 40 per cent in the last year as a result.

The Telegraph is reporting that the company failed to repay loans worth £80m in June and was given a short-term stay of execution by lenders. This follows a series of stories in The Northern Echo which revealed the company was struggling to make ends meet and its financial state was increasingly perilous.

Asked if there were any inaccuracies in this morning's report, an SSI spokesman told The Northern Echo that the company would be making no comment.

Redcar MP Anna Turley has secured a three hour debate on the crisis in UK steel, which takes place on Thursday. Following business questions in the Commons today, when she pressed steel minister Anna Soubry to support Teesside steel, Ms Turley repeated her call for urgent government action.

Ms Turley said: “The crisis in UK Steel is becoming serious and the government must act now to save steelmaking on Teesside.

"I have been in daily contact with SSI and management at the site over the past few months keeping abreast of the difficulties being faced by the industry and have been working alongside colleagues in Parliament to lobby the government for support. I have met privately with the Minister for steel and asked urgent questions in the Chamber to press for immediate support.

“Our steelworks in Redcar sustains thousands of jobs and it is vital that these are protected. The government need to be stepping up to support the industry to help it weather the current storm. I asked the Minister for urgent action at Business Questions today and the debate on Thursday will be further opportunity to make our case to the government.

“We are looking for action on energy costs, business rates and imports, to level the playing field and improve UK steel competitiveness. We would also like to see a commitment to promoting local content and sustainable products in the UK supply chain and for the government to champion reform of European emissions trading to safeguard competitiveness.

“Steel is important to our region and the UK economy as a whole and should be a key part of the Northern Powerhouse project. We need the government to commit to playing its part in safeguarding the industry’s future,” added the Redcar Labour MP. 

Earlier this month, the Echo reported that the region's last surviving steelworks could be put up for sale as the firm's financial backers were losing patience after ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds into the loss making venture.

Loans have been rescheduled but payment deadlines to banks and suppliers have repeatedly been missed.

SSI chief operating officer Cornelius Louwrens warned this summer that the firm is expected to show another loss when its results annual come out later this month.

SSI took over the Teesside plant in 2010 after it was mothballed, and has spent more than £1 billion to revive an industry which has been on Teesside more than 140 years.

Since production restarted in April 2012 the Redcar plant has been loss-making, but it has set several production records and more than nine million tonnes of steel slab have been shipped to clients in Europe, Thailand and the US.

A spokesman for steelworkers' union Community said: "We are fully aware of the difficult market conditions in which SSI UK is operating and the worries and concerns of SSI workers. The multi union reps on site at SSI are pushing for updates from management through their usual channels.

"While we appreciate the incredibly difficult market conditions faced by all UK steel producers, we believe that a lack of support from the UK government in vital areas such as energy, environmental and business taxes and procurement threaten the very future of the UK steel industry."

"We will continue to communicate with our members as soon as information is received."