The government has published details of its plan to use 3m tonnes of steel in infrastructure projects by 2020 in a bid to give beleaguered domestic steelmakers a better chance of winning government contracts.
The amount of steel required across 18 central government infrastructure projects, including HS2, the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant and upgrading the motorway system, will be equivalent to 173 Wembley stadiums, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said today.
The guidance also covered sectors including science and research (namely the British Antarctic Survey), education and defence.
Information on indicative future steel requirements will now be published on an annual basis.
Alongside the estimates on upcoming projects needing steel, the government has also updated procurement guidance that sets out how the wider public sector is covered and has removed a previous £10m threshold.
"The government has been absolutely clear that we want to do all we can to support our world-class steel industry," said business and energy secretary Greg Clark said.
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.
We want UK companies big and small to be bidding for and winning government contracts which is why our upcoming Industrial Strategy is so important. This strategy will ensure we make the right investments in science, research, skills and infrastructure so that British industry wins contracts by producing the best goods and services.
The steel crisis came into the fore this year when Indian conglomerate Tata Steel said in March it would sell its UK assets, including the Port Talbot steelmaking plant in Wales.
Steel markets are still weighed on heavily by a supply glut, much of which was triggered by growing production and falling consumption in China, which has slashed prices.
Director of UK Steel Gareth Stace and Deirdre Fox, chair of the Procurement and Commercial Working Group of the Steel Council said: "This is a welcome announcement which moves the procurement process on a step further and will ensure that more UK produced steel will be used in a greater range of government funded projects.
"These documents are a testament to the hard work of government, industry and trade unions, however clearly more work needs to be done to ensure returns improve in the coming months and years, and we look forward to working with government to achieve this shared goal."