Changes to rules to open the door for more UK content in major public infrastructure projects have been welcomed by unions and bosses at British Steel. The Government is responding to pressure from all sides, with Business Secretary Greg Clark MP changing guidance for taxpayer funded projects –big builds from councils and the NHS.
It will drop the £10 million threshold for social and economic impact requirements for sourced steel, ensuring all projects need to assess the value of UK steel.
Mr Clark said that the changes will see the Government commit to using three million tonnes of steel in infrastructure projects until 2020. It will continue to publish the indicative requirement for steel annually, providing a transparent pipeline.
He said: “The Government has been absolutely clear that we want to do all we can to support our world-class steel industry. These changes will ensure that UK steel companies can better plan for the long term, giving them an even greater chance of securing Government contracts.
The pipeline will make it easier for UK steel firms to plan and bid for upcoming major infrastructure projects such as High Speed Rail Two, for which the Telegraph is campaigning for it to be awarded to British Steel in Scunthorpe.
Hundreds of comments and petitions backing the move have been collated, and it will continue until a commitment is made.
Roland Junck, British Steel’s executive chairman, said: “We warmly welcome the Government’s announcement about procurement rules, along with the publication of the steel pipeline.
“These are two of the key subjects we have been discussing with Government and it is heartening to see these policies being delivered.
“The changes should lead to more steel manufactured in this country being used in domestic projects and that is good news for British Steel, our employees and the communities in which we operate.
“While we are very much a global business, British Steel undoubtedly has the capacity and capability to supply more of the steel needed for a huge range of private and public sector schemes – large and small – throughout the UK.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Government to ensure we deliver a stronger future for British Steel and our customers.”
The move follows through on Northern Powerhouse Minister, Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy’s assurance to the Telegraph last week that Westminster was trying to level the playing field for the steel.
Responding to the announcement, Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said: “We welcome the change to procurement rules as another step towards a joined-up industrial strategy that supports our steel industry.
“Using public sector procurement to deliver for the UK’s steel producers has been a key demand of our Save Our Steel campaign and an issue we have consistently raised with Government for many years. The changes the Government made last year were a positive step in the right direction and showed they were starting to listen to the voices of steelworkers and their employers.
“Now we need to see these changes put into practice so that UK companies are winning contracts and we can continue down the path towards a sustainable future for our steel industry.”