REDUNDANCY-THREATENED miners could struggle to find new work after “Whitehall centralism” thwarted hopes of vital employment support, it has been claimed.

Downing Street has ruled out extending SSI Taskforce funding to around 200 workers at ICL UK’s east Cleveland-based Boulby mine, claiming it would set an unsustainable precedent.

But Redcar Labour MP Anna Turley told The Northern Echo it was a “bad decision”, with Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland counterpart Simon Clarke revealing he has been left “frustrated” by the verdict.

ICL UK is looking to shed staff as it reacts to dwindling traditional North Sea mineral reserves, with muriate of potash mining being superseded by a focus on the multi-nutrient fertiliser polyhalite.

Cross-party calls were made earlier this month to use the Taskforce pot, originally founded to support steelworkers in the aftermath of Redcar-based SSI UK’s collapse, for the benefit of at-risk Boulby miners.

However, the Government has now rejected the appeals, with Business Minister Andrew Griffiths saying it views SSI UK’s 2015 collapse as an “exceptional case”, adding any Taskforce extension would set a precedent it couldn’t maintain for other firms making redundancies.

But Ms Turley, who campaigned to save the Redcar steelworks alongside former Labour east Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop, told the Echo local power brokers should have been allowed to take control.

She also said Government assurances over workers’ benefits during their re-training will be worthless if there are no courses on offer owing to the cash snub.

She said: “It will mean Boulby workers will not have access to the same funding for re-training.

“This money was given to the Taskforce, so I do not understand why we cannot have the flexibility with it.

“It’s Whitehall centralism and a top-down approach. People here know what is best for the local economy. We are still in a state of economic shock from the closure of our steelworks; we are not like London or Manchester where you can absorb this level of job losses.”

Mr Clarke, who took his seat after victory during last year’s General Election, admitted he felt frustrated, but disagreed with Ms Turley over changes to training opportunities.

The Conservative, who asked Prime Minister Theresa May to look into extending the Taskforce pot earlier this month, said: “I’m disappointed about the outcome of our request.

“But the decision is the decision.

“Ensuring every single person who loses their job receives the best possible opportunity to train and find work is my top priority and I welcome the way the Government has agreed to make special arrangements to help Boulby workers.

“It’s usually the case that anyone on Jobseeker’s Allowance, who is training for more than 16 hours a week, sees their benefits reduce. That won’t happen in this case and this will ensure everyone can go and re-skill, or gain certification, without worrying about losing money.”

ICL UK first revealed its restructure plan in 2015, announcing it would cut 700 jobs in separate redundancy waves after tests showed muriate of potash reserves were running extremely low. Hundreds of workers have already left, with the firm, known locally as Cleveland Potash, saying the switch to polyhalite will secure the mine’s long-term future by generating bumper global trade deals.