UK steel sector sets out manifesto strategy to secure future of steel

Steel is critical to the future of the nation. It is a building block of society, essential to 34,000 jobs up and down the country, and central to construction, automotive, defence, and low-carbon energy generation sectors. 

Despite being a strategic sector, central to the UK’s economic strength and resilience, the UK steel industry is battling sliding competitiveness and increasing imports. Levelling the playing field and boosting competitiveness are the cornerstones of our manifesto. Addressing this will boost regional economic equality where it is most needed, providing well-paid, highly skilled jobs and bringing investment in Wales, the Midlands, South Yorkshire, and the North East of the UK. 

UK Steel’s election manifesto sets out a comprehensive strategy to secure the sector for the good of the country and to put steel front and centre of the political conversation. The manifesto outlines seven key policy pillars, core to the UK steel industry’s success: 

  1. Lowest industrial electricity prices in Europe 
  2. Steel scrap competitiveness and recycling capability
  3. Decarbonisation through Government-industry partnership 
  4. Investment in innovation 
  5. UK CBAM by 2026 
  6. Robust trade defence 
  7. Leverage power of public procurement 

UK Steel Director General, Gareth Stace, said: 

“Steel must be the backbone of a strong and successful British economy. Our industry is critical to our nation’s future, and we should not be importing nearly 70% of the steel we use in the UK from abroad.  

“Our nation’s steel sector is a significant economic keystone. We fed in £1.8 billion to the UK economy and an added £2.4 billion through supply chains, as well as £3.4 billion to the UK’s balance of trade.  

“From uplifting regional economies and supporting jobs, to rail projects and much-needed construction of new homes, through to building new wind turbines and hydrogen infrastructure to power the country, our manifesto makes it clear that steel is critical to everything, and it should be UK-made steel which brings these projects to life.”

Contact details
Louise Young, Campaigns and Engagement Manager, UK Steel
07388 370176 | 

The UK Steel Election Manifesto can be downloaded here. 

Lowest industrial electricity prices in Europe: The future of the UK’s steel industry depends on its ability to decarbonise, which is contingent on competitive electricity prices. Two changes are needed: parity with competitors on network charges and wholesale electricity market reform. While the Supercharger package will partly reduce policy and network costs for energy intensive industries like steel, it has fallen short of what is provided in Germany and France, which exempts industry from 90% of network charges compared to the UK’s lower 60% compensation. 

Steel scrap competitiveness and recycling capability: Scrap is a strategic material and will be critical to the steel sector’s Net Zero future. By 2030, UK scrap demand could increase by 70% and global demand by 30%, and this will continue to accelerate into 2050. The UK is fortunate to generate more than 10 million tonnes (Mt) of steel scrap each year and is well-positioned for using this resource in electric arc furnace steelmaking and spearheading the circular economy. 

Decarbonisation through Government-industry partnership: The UK steel sector is committed to investing in reducing 80% of its emissions by 2035 and achieving Net Zero steel production by 2050. Our sector wants to work hand-in-glove with Government to achieve these aims, through matched investment and a wider enabling environment. In addition to decarbonising existing operations, consideration should also be given to investing in UK steelmaking capability in strategic areas, such as products that contribute to the UK’s decarbonisation journey, for example, the steel used in wind turbines. 

Investment in innovation: The UK boasts some of the best research and innovation expertise, which we must capitalise upon and grasp the opportunity to become global leaders in green steelmaking. 

UK CBAM by 2026: Carbon leakage measures such as a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) are essential to providing a level playing field for UK steelmakers who face high carbon costs when imports of steel do not. A UK CBAM is now proposed to be implemented in 2027, a year later than when the EU’s CBAM takes effect, exposing our market to trade diversion of high-emissions steel. 

Robust trade defence: There are several trends globally that impact our ability to compete fairly: rising overcapacity, rising protectionism and, as a result, rising trade diversion. These are all distortions to international trade meaning that there is no free market for steel globally. Robust trade defence is therefore paramount to providing a level playing field for UK steel producers. 

Leverage power of public procurement: Public projects account for over 10% of steel demand in the UK each year, meaning that the Government has a hugely powerful tool at its disposal to bolster UK industry and supply chains, while at the same time maximising the social, economic and environmental benefits of public expenditure. 

The UK steel sector:   

  • Produces 5.6 Mt of crude steel a year, around 70% of the UK’s annual requirement (annual demand of 7.6Mt in 2023) 
  • Employs 33,700 people directly in the UK and supports a further 42,000 in supply chains 
  • The median steel sector salary is £37,315, 26% higher than the UK national median and 35% higher than the regional median in Wales, and Yorkshire & Humberside where its jobs are concentrated 
  • Directly contributes £1.8 billion to UK GVA and supports a further £2.4 billion 
  • Directly contributes £3.4 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 2024 press pack, Why the UK needs a strong steel sector or the 2024 UK Steel Key Statistics report.  

Steel imports into the UK: 

  • UK Steel Key Stats Report 2024 showed that in 2023, net imports stood at 4.6Mt claiming a 60% import share up from 55% the year prior. While overall imports fell in absolute terms by 5%, volumes increased from Asian origins, notably India and Vietnam, as well as France, all of which benefit from much lower electricity costs. 
  • Data from the first quarter of 2024 show an even higher import penetration in the UK of 67%. 

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.