The Government has today announced new proposals to help protect British steel, days after the announcement by Tata Steel that it could sell off its UK plants.
That move by Tata placed the future of around 2,000 jobs at the firm’s Stocksbridge and Rotherham plants in doubt.
But today business secretary Savid Javid announced new measures which he says will ensure public sector steel contracts ‘must specifically consider UK steel’.
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced that:
-For the first time public sector steel contracts must specifically consider UK steel
-The changes extends central Government requirement to entire public sector including NHS and councils.
A spokesman said: “With around £300 billion due to be spent on major UK infrastructure projects over the next five years, the two new initiatives announced today will support steel suppliers’ ability to compete with international suppliers for major government and public sector contracts - as part of the government’s plan to secure the long term future of the steel industry in the UK.
“Guidance introduced in October 2015 already means that all central government departments must consider the social and economic impact of the steel they source across all major projects, including on HS2, where over two millions of tonnes of steel will be needed. This means that steel contracts for this £55 billion project will not go abroad if the most competitive bid is British.
“The Government has today announced that, for all relevant contracts, the public sector will be required to adopt these reforms introduced by central Government. Public procurements that involve the supply of steel, will need to consider responsible sourcing, the training suppliers give to their workforce, carbon footprint, protecting the health and safety of staff and the social integration of disadvantaged workers.
“This will allow buyers across all major projects to take into account the true value of British steel, including its social impact. Contractors working for the public sector will also be required to advertise their requirements for steel so that UK firms can compete.”
Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said: “We are going further than ever before to support British steel. Taxpayers spend billions of pounds buying steel for public projects. Last year we changed the rules across all central government procurement to ensure buyers take into account the true value of British steel - including local impact and jobs.
“The industry is responding positively to this so I want to go further. Now we will apply this guidance across the public sector so that, from operating theatres to new buildings, public sector buyers will need to consider social and economic benefits, alongside value for money. When public bodies buy steel they must taking account of the true value of buying British.”
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I am determined to make sure we do all we can to secure a sustainable future for UK steel and find a viable solution that supports the workers and wider community.
“By changing the procurement rules on these major infrastructure projects we are backing the future of UK steel - opening up significant opportunities for UK suppliers and allowing them to compete more effectively with international companies.”