UNION officials are urging the Government to guarantee the future of British Steel and safeguard thousands of jobs amid suggestions that the company is seeking a multimillion-pound loan to secure its future.

It is understood that meetings were held yesterday where workers heard details about the company's plans.

British Steel employs thousands of workers, mainly at Scunthorpe, but has smaller plants in the North-East.

Redcar MP Anna Turley said it was "very worrying" news for the thousands of workers and their families employed at British Steel, including the sites at Lackenby and Skinningrove.

She added: "I understand that discussions between the company, government, lenders and trade unions are ongoing and I urge ministers to do everything in their power to do what is needed to save British Steel.

"The steel industry is crucial, underpinning our manufacturing sector, and another of its biggest players cannot be allowed to fail. The chaotic handling of Brexit and the uncertainty it has caused has contributed to this crisis, as has a failure to learn from the 2015 steel crisis and tackle the underlying problems, despite solutions being offered. It is time the government stepped up and met its responsibilities to support British industry."

Ross Murdoch, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This Government has a track record of sitting on its hands while UK manufacturing collapses round its ears.

"Now is the time to take action. Minsters must come out and guarantee the loan required to safeguard British Steel.

"Thousands of UK jobs are on the line, not to mention the entire future of our proud steel industry.".

A British Steel spokesman said: "As we have previously commented, the uncertainties around Brexit are posing challenges for all businesses including British Steel, and we are holding constructive discussions with our stakeholders on how to navigate them.

"Last month the company agreed a short term bridge facility with Government to help it meet its EU emissions obligations, and discussions are continuing about a package of additional support to assist the company."