THE Government has agreed to support a rescue deal for British Steel with a support package worth hundreds of millions of pounds, potentially securing the future of hundreds of North-East steelworkers.

Last week, Government sources said they were close to providing a £300m package of support for Britiain's second largest steel producer, which collapsed into liquidation in May, putting thousands of jobs at risk, including 700 in North-East sites at Lackenby and Skinningrove.

The Northern Echo understands Ataer Holding is poised to enter a formal period of exclusive negotiations to buy British Steel later this week, and is the preferred bidder ahead of a number of Far East companies who have expressed an interest

Ataer is a unit of Oyak, which looks after the pension pots of Turkey's military personnel.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said it was "really positive news" for North-East steelworkers, and welcomed the Government's £300m support package.

"It’s likely British Steel will ultimately be saved and Government is stepping up to the mark to save jobs.

"I have always said nationalisation should have remained on the table as an option and the Government is right to give this financial support. It should have happened with SSI but we are where are."

Redcar MP Anna Turley added: "After months of uncertainty we are on the cusp of securing a deal for British Steel, protecting 700 jobs on Teesside and many more through the wider business and supply chain. I won’t be breathing a sigh of relief until the ink is dry but things are looking very positive.

!This is a strong business with a brilliant work force that has a crucial role to play in UK manufacturing. It would have been unthinkable for it to close. After the completely avoidable disaster we had to endure in Redcar in 2015, I’m grateful to Greg Clark and the government for stepping up and doing the right thing this time, and support a key industry.

"We are still waiting on the detail of the deal but reports are positive. Greybull were after a quick buck and it is important that the new owner is truly invested in the business and its future.

"I’ll be looking for a plan that invests in the assets, provides good terms and conditions for the workforce, supports training, supports R&D to keep the industry competitive, and that is committed to local communities.

"The workforce, suppliers and customers to British Steel deserve a huge thanks for their hard work, commitment and professionalism throughout this crisis."