Contractors urged to use British steel by Build UK

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Build UK is lobbying for changes to the procurement of steel and rebar industries comes after the Government extended rules to encourage the use of British steel on all public sector contracts

Build UK which represents major contractors and more than 30 specialist trade bodies, issued a statement yesterday saying its members were committed to providing opportunities for British-based steel producers to support local economies, create jobs, and reduce carbon emissions from transport.

Current EU procurement rules require fair and open competition between member states and prevent public sector organisations involved in public sector projects from stating that they will only buy British steel but EU rules do not apply to private sector organisations which can state a preference for British steel, unless they are buying on behalf of the public sector or certain private utilities covered by EU directives which are as follows.

  1. Adherence to British quality standards and all applicable European Directives and Regulations
  2. Compliance with a recognised responsible sourcing scheme
  3. Positive environmental outcomes associated with shorter delivery distances
  4. Support for local employment and training opportunities

The recommendations echo the Government’s Procurement Policy Note 16/15, which aims to address barriers that prevent British-based steel producers competing effectively for contracts.

This calls on all public sector clients from central Government departments to local councils to look at the carbon footprint of steel supplies, including transport costs, when judging bids from main contractors.

Procurement chiefs have also been told to take into account the social impacts of competing suppliers.

Critically, this includes the impact on jobs, protecting the health and safety of staff and the social integration of disadvantaged workers, as well as placing a responsibility on firms to upskill the workforce.

The radical measures will apply to major projects with a total steelwork content valued at over £10m.

In future major best practice public clients like HS2, Network Rail and Highways England will require tier one contractors to set out, where known, how and from which supplier steel will be sourced.

If a supplier has not been selected at contract award, main contractors and relevant steelwork firms will be required to openly advertise opportunities for steel supply. This will be stipulated in public works contracts.

Despite being introduced last year, the mechanism for public tendering steel subcontractor work has still not been set out by Government.