Figures show nearly 3,000 tonnes of steel has been imported for use in UK projects – even though domestic steelmakers produce the same goods
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The Tories have been accused of a “total disregard” for Britain’s steel industry after buying thousands of tonnes of foreign steel – snubbing UK firms.
The Government bought almost 3,000 tonnes of steel from manufacturers based abroad in 2019/20 – despite the same products being available from British producers.
Steel purchases worth more than £2.9million – from prison cell doors to hospital structural frames – have been outsourced, according to an analysis of official data.
Procurement records show there were five outsourced steel contracts last year that could have been supplied by domestic steelmakers.
A cancer research facility at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester was built using reinforcing steel bars bought from abroad – representing £1.26m of lost revenue for British producers.
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The Ministry of Justice admitted using 1,500 tonnes of steel worth £1.45m that was imported for cell doors, gates, windows and reinforcements at HMP Five Wells, a new jail due to house 1,680 inmates in Wellingborough, Northants.
British steel was once again passed over when it came to supplying a £170,000 structural frame for a neonatal intensive care unit in Liverpool.
Community steelworkers’ union national officer Alun Davies said: “These revelations are shocking and show a total disregard to the steel industry in this country.
Courtesy of Community)
“A commitment to buying British steel is an investment in Britain.
“Contracts should not be awarded solely on the basis of cost, but must properly take into account the social and environmental benefits of sourcing locally.
“Buying Britain’s steel supports thousands of jobs and livelihoods, benefits our economy, provides value to the taxpayer and is better for the environment.”
The Mirror, which is campaigning to Save Our Steel, has previously told how steel for railways, trains and Royal Navy warships and submarines has been imported.
The Government set up a Steel Procurement Taskforce in March 2021 to discuss obstacles faced by UK steelmakers in competing for lucrative public sector contracts.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel, said: “For a multitude of reasons – from tackling climate change, to supporting well-paid industrial jobs, to strengthening our national economic resilience – it has never been so important that the UK Government backs our domestic foundational industries.
“Offshoring steel production and relying on imports not only means sending good jobs overseas, it also increases emissions both through transportation and because steel production processes in other countries can often be far more carbon-intensive than they are here in the UK.
“In an uncertain world, we need a Britain that can stand more firmly on its own two feet, which is why we need to make, buy and sell more here.
“But for this to be possible the Government must lead by example by ensuring that public sector contracts are awarded to British steelmakers.”
Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson said the Government “would rather buy goods from abroad than buy British”.
He added: “Labour has a plan for prosperity.
“We will buy, make and sell more in Britain to get our economy firing on all cylinders, and invest £3billion to ensure the fantastic steel industry is ready for the future.”
A Government spokesman said: “The Government is reviewing its public procurement rules to be better able to meet the needs of this country now we’ve left the European Union.
“We also have clear guidance in place to address any barriers which might prevent British steel producers from competing effectively in the open market.”