Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

New guidelines will encourage major clients to buy British steel

Major infrastructure clients and public sector bodies will be encouraged to buy British steel in a bid to save the country’s beleaguered industry.

Under new procurement guidelines unveiled by business secretary Sajid Javid, public sector bodies such as Network Rail, Highways England and the NHS will be required to consider the social and economic impact on the UK before buying steel from abroad.

The changes will apply to all projects over £10m, with clients expected to consider the carbon footprint of sourcing and transporting construction materials overseas, as well as social concerns such as the health and safety of suppliers’ staff.

Construction companies that win public sector will also be required to advertise their requirements for steel to UK producers so that domestic firms can compete for the business.

It is hoped the new guidelines will ensure the UK steel industry is able to benefit from the £300bn that will be spent on major infrastructure projects across the country over the next five years.

The plan comes after Tata Steel last week announced its intention to sell off its UK businesses, including the country’s biggest steel mill in Port Talbot, after incurring heavy losses.

Tata blamed high energy costs, weak demand and cheap imports of Chinese steel for the losses.

Mr 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.”

Last October the government brought in new guidelines that required all central government departments to consider the social and economic impact of the steel they sourced for major projects.

However, these guidelines have now been extended to councils as well as major public sector bodies such as local councils, Network Rail and Highways England.

Mr Javid said: “With £300bn due to be spent on infrastructure projects in the next five years, this will let all buyers take into account the true value of British steel.”

The move was welcomed by the Labour Party and steel unions but both said the government still needed to do more to save the ailing sector.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell called on ministers to speed up the construction of infrastructure projects such as High Speed 2 to support the steel industry and encourage investment.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Different storey now, steel workers did not care we all had fixed price contracts 7-8 years ago when it went up 20-30%

    They should have to price the market or take a pay cut

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.