Triple boost as first northern Mayor, regional leaders and Combined Authority to sign UK Steel Charter at Sheffield Forgemasters

19 March 2024

South Yorkshire is home to a proud history of steelmaking, with the earliest record dating to 1642. Today, almost 400 years later, the South Yorkshire Metro Mayor, Oliver Coppard, the South Yorkshire Metro Combined Authority, and the newly founded regional Business Advisory Board will sign the UK Steel Charter. They will also visit the iconic, Sheffield Forgemasters, showing support for and celebrating the importance of the local steel industry.

Signing the UK Steel Charter signals a commitment, encouraging business leaders to change procurement processes to include more UK-made steel, supporting local jobs, supply chains and the economy. South Yorkshire is a centre for manufacturing with over 2,700 businesses, employing 59,000 people, plus eight major steel producers and processor industrial sites. The metals sector is significant in the region, making up the third largest grouping in the wider Yorkshire and the Humber area.

Mayor Coppard becomes the first Northern Mayor to sign the Charter. He recently established the Business Advisory Board with industry experts from the local Chambers of Commerce, Make UK, CBI, Northern Trade Union Congress and Federation of Small Businesses to name a few.

The site they are visiting is Sheffield Forgemasters, a major South Yorkshire manufacturing hub with over 200 years of history. The steel producer employs more than 600 staff and manufactures 40,000 tonnes of heavy and technically challenging steel forgings and castings every year. These are used in highly specialist defence, civil nuclear, power and aerospace applications.

South Yorkshire Mayor, Oliver Coppard, said: 

“South Yorkshire is the spiritual home of the steel industry. We were the first place to mass produce steel, we powered the first industrial revolution, and we’re now home to the world’s first advanced manufacturing district. “Now, as the Mayor of South Yorkshire, I’m determined to restore the pride, purpose and prosperity of South Yorkshire. By signing the UK’s Steel Charter we are not just recognising our heritage, we are committing to bringing high-quality, good jobs and growth to our region, right across our region. 

“Advanced manufacturing, making the materials and the machines that will power our country forward, is South Yorkshire’s lodestar; the future of our communities and our economy. That’s why it’s not just important but vital that we commit to the UK’s Steel Charter. 

“It’s all the better to do so here at Sheffield Forgemasters, a company that is so central to that brighter future for both steel and South Yorkshire that we all want to see.”

UK Steel Director General, Gareth Stace, said:

“This is a triple boost of support as Mayor Coppard, the South Yorkshire Business Advisory Board and the Combined Authority join the UK Steel Charter. “Today’s support is even more poignant as the Charter is signed in Sheffield, the historical home of the UK steel industry.

“With major support from these business leaders, the economy and thousands of jobs in South Yorkshire and throughout the UK will reap benefits from purchasing steel that is made, processed, and delivered here in Britain. Why expose your project to the whims of unpredictable global supply chains, when you have the option of a reliable local business to partner with, throughout the lifetime of your project. Using UK steel is quite simply a win-win for everyone.”

Sheffield Forgemasters Chief Executive Officer, Gary Nutter, said: 

“The UK Steel Charter signing at Sheffield Forgemasters is timely, as we progress with substantial recapitalisation of our site to secure defence supply for decades to come. 

“This company is testament to the importance of British steel production and our skills base is unique, which is why the business was acquired by the Ministry of Defence in 2021.

“As global instability shows itself through energy challenges, it is critical that we reflect on the security of domestic manufacturing capabilities.”

Tariq Shah, Co-Chair of the Business Advisory Board, said: 

Signing the UK Steel Charter underlines the Mayor’s and the Business Advisory Board’s commitment to growing South Yorkshire’s economy and supporting local businesses and supply chains.  

“Our mission is to play a pivotal role in capitalising on the positive momentum in South Yorkshire, driving business success nationally and internationally. Today’s meeting with Sheffield Forgemasters and UK Steel has highlighted the huge importance of South Yorkshire steel to the local and national economy and to wider supply chains.”

About the UK Steel Charter The UK Steel Charter is a commitment that shows how the South Yorkshire Mayor, Combined Authority and Business Advisory Board aim to change procurement processes to include more UK-made steel and support the economy. The Charter enables government departments, devolved administrations, local authorities, and private organisations, to publicly signal their commitment to using UK steel in major projects. 

To find out more about the UK Steel Charter download the guidance document here

About the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority 

Led by Mayor of South Yorkshire Oliver Coppard, the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority brings together the local authorities of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield and the private sector through our Business Advisory Board. The Mayor and the MCA have a shared purpose to create a stronger, greener, fairer South Yorkshire. We work together to unlock the potential of our people, businesses and places and ensure they prosper. 

About the South Yorkshire Business Advisory Board 

The South Yorkshire Business Advisory Board is committed to growing South Yorkshire’s economy and driving business growth. The Board is co-chaired by Louisa Harrison-Walker, representing the three South Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce, and Tariq Shah OBE, Director of the Vigo Group – a leading, sustainability-driven, transformational property enterprise. 

About UK Steel: UK Steel is the trade association for the UK steel industry. It represents all the country’s steelmakers and most downstream steel processors. 

The UK steel sector:  

  • Produces 6Mt of crude steel a year, around 70% of the UK’s annual requirement (annual demand of 8.9Mt) 
  • Employs 39,800 people directly in the UK and supports a further 50,000 in supply chains 
  • The median steel sector salary is £39,637, 43% higher than the UK national median and 56% higher than the regional median in Wales, and Yorkshire & Humberside, where its jobs are concentrated 
  • Directly contributes £2.9 billion to UK GDP and supports a further £3.8 billion 
  • Directly contributes £4 billion to the UK’s balance of trade 96% of steel used in construction and infrastructure in the UK is recovered and recycled to be used again and again 

For further information about the steel industry, please see the press pack, Why the UK needs a strong steel sector or the 2023 UK Steel Key Statistics report.