UK industry could supply eight million tonnes of steel for public projects over next decade

28 March 2024

Continuing the trend for openness and transparency in public procurement, the UK Government has today published its latest report on the amount of UK-made steel it has purchased, alongside its estimate of the steel it will need over the next decade. 

Last year, the Government launched an updated Procurement Policy Note which encourages effective early market engagement and strong supply chain management.

It is encouraging to see that the quality and detail of reporting improves year-on-year, and now stands at 90% completeness of data provided by Departments. Additionally, the report shows a future demand of eight million tonnes of steel that Government projects will need in the next decade.

The culture in the UK is changing towards actively considering purchasing domestically produced steel, resulting in a year-on-year increase in UK steel companies supplying major infrastructure projects, with a total value of £299m.

The biggest purchasers of steel over the last year were transport projects, with major rail and highway contracts featuring prominently. This follows positive and proactive engagement between the Department for Transport, UK Steel, and UK steel producers over the last year, helping drive awareness of readiness of the industry to contribute to major projects.

Whilst there is continued improvement in data reporting by Departments and an increase of steel purchased from the UK, there remained approximately £15m of steel orders that could have been purchased in the UK, but ultimately were purchased by contractors from sources abroad – depriving the UK economy of the benefits of domestic procurement.

UK Steel and the industry stands ready to work with Government and other stakeholders to realise significant opportunities for UK steelmakers to supply the six million tonnes of steel required for offshore wind projects over the coming decade. We must ensure British companies are given every opportunity to support our green energy transition. 

UK Steel Director General, Gareth Stace, said:

“UK Steel welcomes the Government’s commitment to the steel industry, with the publication of the new steel public procurement data. It is brilliant to see public projects are increasingly made with British-made steel, and improvements are made to future forecast demand alongside better origin data for steel.
"We look forward to our continued partnership with Government on this programme as UK steelmakers aim to offer more and more steel to the projects that make up the backbone of our society, from new hospitals to schools and defence purposes.
“However, there is a significant amount of work to do to ensure UK steelmakers are given the opportunity to demonstrate their capability and capacity to support our green energy transition – even more comprehensive data on renewables must be included in next year’s Pipeline.” 

About the Government steel pipeline and actuals report:

These documents set out the government’s compliance with the steel procurement guidance and shows how the government plans to use steel in infrastructure projects over the next decade. The steel pipeline shows how the government plans to use more than 8 million tonnes of steel over the next decade on infrastructure projects such as:

  • Rail projects 
  • the maintenance and upgrading of the UK’s motorway network 
  • the construction of schools and hospitals 
  • Renewable energy projects 

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 repor