Public sector must consider ‘true value of British steel’

The UK's largest steel works in Port Talbot, South Wales, which Indian owners Tata are looking to sell.

The UK's largest steel works in Port Talbot, South Wales, which Indian owners Tata are looking to sell.

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public sector bodies will be required to consider the social and economic impact on the UK before buying steel from abroad, the Government has announce

After a week in which the Government has struggled to formulate a response to the decision by Tata Steel to sell off its loss-making UK assets, ministers said they were taking steps to create a “level playing field” for British manufacturers.

Guidelines introduced last year requiring central government bodies to take into account the “true value” of British steel are to be extended across the public sector - including the NHS and local councils.

Under the guidelines, public procurements which 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”.

Contractors working for the public sector will also be required to advertise their requirements for steel so that UK firms can compete for the business.

Cabinet Office Minister Matt Hancock said: “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 added: “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.”

The announcement comes amid heavy criticism of ministers for failing to take more effective action to prevent the “dumping” of cheap Chinese steel, seen as one of the key reasons for the problems in the UK steel industry.

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