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11 March 2020:

Budget 2020: Government must maximise UK content of major infrastructure projects

Commenting on the today’s Budget announcement, UK Steel Director General, Gareth Stace, said: 

“£600 billion of infrastructure investment is undoubtedly good news. The UK’s historic underinvestment, particularly outside of the south east, has long held key industrial regions of the country back, and it was vital that the Budget addressed this issue. However, it is critical that the Government spends this money strategically, ensuring the largest possible return for taxpayers by maximising the UK content of these major projects.

“UK infrastructure projects are expected to require one million tonnes of steel a year, a figure that will only increase in light of the Chancellor’s investment announcement. The Government could significantly boost the social and economic benefits delivered by these projects by taking a more deliberative approach to steel procurement. Indeed, the two million tonnes of steel projected for HS2 alone would deliver a £1.5 billion boost to the UK economy and safeguard at least 2,000 steel jobs, if UK produced steel is used. The Government must set clear objectives for steel procurement in these major projects, as happens in the United States, and an important first step would be signing the UK Steel Charter.

“Elsewhere in the Budget, it is hugely disappointing that yet again the UK Government has missed an opportunity to tackle some of the fundamental weaknesses of the UK’s industrial environment. Action for steel producers on sky high electricity prices and business rates reform are desperately needed to help establish a sustainable future of the sector, placing it on a clear trajectory towards a prosperous, low carbon future. The steel industry has called for just £50 million in order to help provide competitive electricity prices – if the Government can find £2.5 billion for potholes, then surely it can find £50 million to plug the gap with our nearest competitors.” 

For the full press release: