UK steel suppliers are in the important position of connecting a great British institution – steelmaking – with the construction firms who need structural steel and other such materials for use in their projects.
So you might expect the government to be wholly supportive of UK steel suppliers of all sizes, their contribution to this traditionally British vertical industry and to the economy as a whole.
However, the government need to ensure that they achieve good value for money when procuring materials for public projects – and that can lead to an excessive focus on economies of scale, rather than on the bigger economic picture.
The Federation of Master Builders is now calling for the public sector to make sure its procurement does not overlook smaller UK construction firms and suppliers, and risk damaging their contribution to the wider economy.
Chief executive Brian Berry says: “In construction, 60% of apprentices are employed by micro-businesses.”
These are the smallest firms, with just one or two employees, making apprentices an important component in their labour force.
“They must be given fair access to these public-sector opportunities if we are to maximise employment opportunities for our young people,” Mr Berry adds.
By doing so, we can not only allow UK steel stockists and other materials suppliers, along with construction firms, to make their contribution to the economy; we can ensure also that we have the skilled individuals needed to keep the British materials and construction sectors alive in generations to come.