‘DROP IN THE OCEAN’ Ministers are privately urging Theresa May to double Government’s ‘paltry’ support for the shipping industry to help it make the most of Brexit

MINISTERS are privately urging Theresa May to double the Government’s “paltry” support for the shipping industry to help it make the most of Brexit.

The UK Chamber of Shipping – which represents 175 shipping firms in the UK and around the world – wants to see the Government give £30million to train more seafarers.

It said an extra £15million is a “drop in the ocean” for the Government and says the economy will get £4 back for every £1 invested in training sea workers.

Transport minister John Hayes backs the move to boost cash for training sea workers and is understood to be lobbying the Treasury for the extra £15million cash.

Ministers cut funding by 14% under the last Government – but the shipping industry has warned that the UK will need hundreds more seafarers to meet the Prime Minister’s pledge to use Brexit to strike landmark new trade deals with countries across the world.

Currently 95% of the UK’s international trade is moved by sea. Former transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick is backing the campaign calling for government support.

He told The Sun: “Brexit provides opportunities – the merchant fleet is critical to the future of UK PLC – the Government needs to spend the money to invest in our future.”

Around 1,000 are currently trained every year but the UK Chamber of Shipping says this number needs to increase by up to 40 per cent to cope with the expected boost in trade after we leave the EU.

But the UK is the second most expensive place in the world to train. It takes two-three years to train a seafarer.

Newly qualified officers can earn £25,000 in their first job and that can rise to £70,000 or more within ten years if they progress to senior levels.

UK Chamber of Shipping chief Guy Platten said: “The Prime Minister wants to build a country that works for all and we can help.

“The opportunity to sign more free trade deals is an exciting one and I have no doubt the UK will remain a world-leading trading nation.

“The world has never traded more and the ships that move that trade need world class seafarers. I want more of them to be British.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We want a successful UK maritime industry so our nation is best placed to benefit from the expected doubling in world sea trade by 2030.

“Our seafarers are rightly recognised for their training and expertise and we have launched a review to see how we can help the sector thrive.”


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