STEEL bosses warned David Cameron five years ago that energy taxes would risk thousands of jobs on Teesside, but ministers ignored the pleas as they were determined to lead 'the greenest government in history'.

The Prime Minister yesterday confirmed he would ask the EU to approve tax breaks that will ease the burden on Britain's under-fire steel industry.

But the move will come too late for thousands of former Redcar steelworkers who are looking for new jobs.

Prior to taking control of the former British steel plant on Teesside in 2011, SSI repeatedly sought assurances from ministers that it would not be hit with punitive taxes for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

George Osborne, however, imposed duty which hiked energy costs for steel manufacturers and other energy-intensive industries that meant that British steelmakers ended up paying 80 per cent more for electricity than the EU average, which is two times higher than the US, and three times more than in China.

Despite repeated warnings that the levy would make it almost impossible for British steel firms to compete with overseas rivals the Government has only now stepped to save the industry from collapse.

During Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Cameron gave a commitment to bring forward the Energy Intensive Industries Compensation Package, first announced in the 2014 budget, but only after state aid clearance is obtained from the European Commission.

Gareth Stace, the director of UK Steel, welcomed the move. “It is now essential that we seek state aid as soon as possible so that payments can begin immediately as promised. This will help provide the breathing space to help the sector through the current crisis.”

Earlier in the day former SSI Redcar workers, who lost their jobs when the plant was liquidated this month, joined a march to Parliament where a Save Our Steel banner was unfurled prior to steel crisis talks.

Speaking in London, redundant worker Kevin Cook, who worked for 39 years in the steel sector, including time at SSI, said people with less than three years' service have only received two week of redundancy pay, capped at £475 a week.

He said: "We are trying to sort out redundancy and pension arrangements but it is an absolute nightmare.

"Workers are feeling angry and shell shocked - some still don't seem to believe what has happened."

Redcar MP Anna Turley was concerned that a £50m crisis fund to help SSI workers to retrain was not getting through. She said: "We were told the local taskforce, which I was pleased to accept an invite to sit on, would have control of the funding but the reality is the decisions are being made by officials and we are waiting for the Secretary of State to clear the money and send it down.

"I have had plenty of people coming to me and have a huge post bag from people who are not accessing the training and support that they need."

SHADOW Defence minister and North Durham MP Kevan Jones accused the Conservatives of “turning their back on British jobs and industry” after it emerged steel from Sweden was being used on two Ministry of Defence projects.

One is a £348m deal for three new Royal Navy ships, the second is a £3.5bn order for 589 Ajax armoured vehicles. It is understood that the steel contracts are worth tens of millions.

A Government spokeswoman said: "It is the responsibility of prime contractors to obtain the steel required to complete MoD programmes at a competitive cost, within time constraints and to the required quality."