Community, steel companies and consumers, and politicians of all stripes, recently gathered in Parliament to relaunch the UK Steel Charter. At the event I was proud to pledge Community’s full support for this important initiative promoting the benefits of buying Britain’s steel.
At Community we firmly believe that Britain’s steel is the best in the world. Moreover in buying Britain’s steel, not only are you getting a top-end product made by world class steelworkers, you are also supporting tens of thousands of good jobs in steel communities and throughout the supply chain.
It’s always frustrating when we see steel contracts that could have been fulfilled here being awarded to companies overseas.
It’s damaging and it’s short-sighted, because buying Britain’s steel is a win-win for all concerned.
Of course our steel companies want to sell their products. But what government wouldn’t want taxpayer-funded contracts to support British jobs, rather than supporting our competitors overseas? What steel-consuming business wouldn’t want a secure local supply of high-quality steel? Why would the public want Britain to ship steels from the other side of the world, with all the damage to the environment that this brings? And for the steelworkers that Community represents, and their families and communities, buying Britain’s steel is an investment in them and their children’s futures.
The case for buying Britain’s steel is strong, and we need to see this translate into a ‘new normal’ for steel-purchasing, where steel-buyers source locally by default wherever it is possible to do so. Other countries make far greater use of procurement decision-making to support their home industries, and Brexit presents further opportunities for Britain to do likewise. For decades Community has been campaigning for procurement decisions to properly reflect the social and environmental benefits of sourcing locally, and our campaign will continue.
It was encouraging to see the Steel Minister, Lee Rowley MP, at the launch event supporting the UK Steel Charter. The Minister oversaw the work of the Steel Procurement Taskforce, which recently published some recommendations that represent a step in the right direction, but much, much more must be done to make procurement policy work to support British jobs.
The steel unions have a campaign called ‘Britain needs its steel’, and that sentiment is truer now than it’s ever been. The pandemic showed us the dangers of relying on fragile international supply chains for essential goods. Even more recently the appalling actions of Russia have reinforced the need for a strong steel industry supporting supply chains crucial to our national security.
Our steel industry is smaller than it once was, but with the right framework of support it can have a bright and prosperous future. The leading economies in the world, the likes of America, China, Japan and Germany, have all built their economic success on the foundation of a strong steel industry.
If Britain is going to compete on the world stage over the years ahead, then we must also invest in our steel industry. For many of us this seems a no-brainer, but it’s an argument that must be won.
The UK Steel Charter is a crucial part of winning that argument. Britain needs its steel, and sourcing locally supports thousands of jobs, benefits our economy, provides value to the taxpayer and has a lower carbon footprint. Please support the Charter, sign it if you’re in a position do so, and join the campaign to secure the future of our vital strategic industry.