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 being held this week where workers will hear details about the company's plans.

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."

The company employs 4,200 people in the UK and TSP Engineering, in Workington, is a wholly owned independent subsidiary of British Steel.

Any financial help would come just weeks after the company was given funds of around £100 million to pay its European Union carbon bill.

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 address broader Brexit-related issues, whilst continuing with its investment plans."

A spokesman for the Community union said: "We are aware of the situation and are having ongoing discussions with the company at the highest levels.

"These reports will be extremely worrying news for all British Steel workers and many more in the supply chains.

"We understand that talks are continuing between the company, the Government and lenders.

"We would urge all parties to recognise the consequences of not taking the necessary steps to ensure British Steel can continue.

"Everyone needs to do absolutely everything to give the company the chance of a future as to do otherwise would be devastating for thousands of workers and their families."

Unite national officer Tony Brady said: "The workforce of British Steel worked tirelessly to secure the steelmaker's future during the difficult times, and given a fighting chance will do so again.

"Unite will be seeking urgent assurances about our members' futures at British Steel, a company which helps sustain thousands of job in the local economy and wider supply chain.

"Having just secured a big order for rail, Unite is firmly of the view that British Steel can and should have a bright future. To do so though the Government must, as reports suggest, help the steelmaker through the tough times, while urgently addressing the wider underlying problems facing the UK steel industry.

"Brexit is hitting sales and creating uncertainty not just for British Steel, but for the wider industry. At the same time high energy costs are leaving steelmakers competing with their European competitors with one hand tied behind their backs.

"Ministers need to support the wider steel industry with help on business rates and high energy costs, while securing a Brexit deal that secures a customs union and continued tariff free frictionless trade.

"The Government must also put UK steel at the heart of major infrastructure and ensure projects like the Royal Navy's new Fleet Solid Ships are built in the UK using UK steel."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman would not comment on the reports about British Steel but added: "BEIS are in regular conversations with a wide range of sectors and companies.

"The Government entered into a commercial agreement with British Steel last month relating to their obligations under the EU emissions trading scheme."