Steel chiefs issue fresh bid for Government and companies to buy British

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Steel chiefs are launching a fresh bid to urge the Government and big firms to buy British and boost UK industry.

Sector bosses will call on Whitehall ministries, major companies and huge infrastructure projects to purchase UK-made metals for multimillion-pound schemes.

They want them to sign a new charter aimed at maximising the amount of UK-produced steel used in construction ventures.

The Government is expected to purchase £2.5billion worth of steel in the next five years for rail, roads, schools, hospitals and warships.

Red hot metal is moved across the heavy forge at the Forgemasters Works

UK Steel wants as much as possible to be sourced from our shores, with bodies signing up to its charter.

Speaking ahead of a launch event in Parliament next week, UK Steel director Gareth Stace said: “This initiative will encourage as many organisations as possible to take a more proactive and thoughtful approach to their procurement of steel in the future, and importantly publicise the exemplar approach that many organisations are already taking.”

Community steelworkers’ union general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “This is an important initiative and a welcome step forward to support our steel industry.

“Steel unions have long-campaigned for government at all levels to maximise the procurement opportunities for UK steel producers.

“I hope that the charter will be widely used and adopted and the positive examples of good procurement practice are followed.

Community steelworkers’ union boss Roy Rickhuss backed the charter

“Procurement remains a vitally important part of any joined-up industrial strategy, and, along with tackling issues such as industrial energy costs, must be part of any sector deal.

“What is needed now is the political will to make procurement work for our industry – the steel charter sets out how this can be achieved.”

The charter was backed by British Steel, the country’s second-biggest producer, which is locked in talks with ministers about a lifesaving Government loan.

Chief executive Gerald Reichmann said: “This initiative can help increase the amount of high-quality steel manufactured in Britain going into thousands of domestic construction projects, something which will have a positive impact on the supply chain and wider UK economy.

“We encourage as many signatories as possible to sign the charter while informing all parties within the UK supply chain of this new approach which builds on the existing government procurement policy notice.”

The charter is a boost for the Mirror’s Save Our Steel campaign, waged amid thousands of job losses and plant closures in 2015.

Daily Mirror Save Our Steel Campaign

 

Earlier, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt dropped the biggest hint yet yesterday that a UK shipyard will win a £1billion deal for new Royal Navy support ships.

Unions welcomed the signal, which fuelled hopes the Government will back British workers by awarding the bumper contract to a UK consortium.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, the Cabinet Minister said: “It’s long order books and steady drum beats in our yards that strengthen our supply chain and bring down the overall cost of procurement.

Penny Mordaunt gave her first speech as Defence Secretary

“What’s needed is a closer partnership with industry that gives them the confidence to invest and build, and us the confidence that we can and we must buy British.”

The Ministry of Defence is under pressure to pledge to build two, possibly three, Fleet Solid Support ships in Britain.

The vital vessels will resupply warships, including the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, with ammunition, explosives and food.

Ms Mordaunt, a Royal Navy reservist who spoke about watching the Falklands War naval task force leave Portsmouth when she was nine-years-old, dubbed them “our logistic backbone”.

The deal has been put out to international tender and five firms, including one UK consortium, are in the running.

The Fleet Solid Support vessels will resupply the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

A decision is due next year and unions have launched the Keep Britain Afloat campaign to demand the contract stays in Britain.

Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions general secretary Ian Waddell said: “The new Secretary of State is at a crossroads which will decide whether she spends her time in office dealing with redundancies and closure or delivering the Navy of the future.

“We welcome any change of heart that recognises the importance of maintaining the UK’s ability to design, build and maintain naval ships at home.

“Shipyard workers across the country have been campaigning hard, as part of the Keep Britain Afloat campaign, to ensure that these ships are built in Britain because shipbuilding offers life chances for young people, supports communities, maintains highly-skilled technical and service jobs and keeps taxpayer investment in the UK.


“If these ships were to be built overseas then the strategic and industrial consequences for the country would be devastating.”

Labour also welcomed the suggestion British workers would win the contract.

Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith said: “Labour has long said that allowing this contract to go overseas would be a complete betrayal of UK workers.

“I welcome this shift in tone from the new Defence Secretary, but warm words alone won’t get these ships built here.

“She should now take decisive action to ensure that this contract is awarded to a UK yard.”



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