As outlined in a new set of guidelines for procurement (as put together by Sajid Javid, Business Secretary), areas of corporate social responsibility and economic accountability are to be placed on the shoulder of key, large-scale public sector bodies. To include organisations such as the NHS, Highways England and Network Rail, the guidance will see responsibility for social and economic impacts laid upon such organisations for the importing of steel; instead, encouraging the use of British steel.
To be applied to all projects greater in value than £10m, clients will also be expected to look at other core areas of corporate social responsibility such as: carbon emissions, sourcing standards, the transportation of materials abroad, as well as areas of social importance such as health and safety – specifically for the staff of the suppliers themselves.
As such, those organisations successful in securing public sector contracts will then also need to promote steel requirements direct to UK-based producers so as best to ensure that British businesses are provided with ample opportunity to both compete for, and secure supply contracts on an equal playing field.
The guidelines themselves are expected to bring a level of assurance to the continuity of the UK steel market, allowing those organisations in the sector to better tap into the colossal £300bn expected to be spent on the major UK infrastructure developments already highlighted for across the country over the next few years.
The announcement itself follows swiftly after Tata Steel’s expression of interest in selling its UK businesses, which presently includes the biggest steel mill in the country; something which heralded great concern for the future prosperity of the wider industry.
Sajid Javid explained: “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.”