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May 13, 2021

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Our economic recovery will build on steel, says Make UK president


Stephen Phillipson, UK chief executive, says Britain’s economic recovery will be built on steel

Why does steel hold such an important link in the public eye in a way that other industries and sectors do not?

Why is it so important to the rest of the economy, and what does the future hold?

In simple numbers, it employs about 33,000 people directly and 42,000 others in the supply chain.

Key component: Steel will be critical in fulfilling the government’s commitment to scale up, particularly by investing in new and upgraded infrastructure projects.

These are highly skilled jobs, with the average salary being roughly one-third higher than the national average salary overall.

In the “red wall” regions of Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber, salaries are roughly above the regional average.

This may seem small compared to the hundreds of thousands of people working in sectors like aviation and automotive.

But the abstract numbers mask a much greater significance.

As a vital core industry, steel is fundamental to a strong UK manufacturing base and the success of a wide range of other major and strategic industrial sectors.

It fosters innovation across high-value supply chains, acts as a test bed for UK’s world-class universities and fuels a pipeline of highly skilled talent that benefits the economy.

Most importantly, it acts as a hub for the industrial conglomerate and will be essential to ensuring that the UK meets its ambitious climate goals.

A strong domestic steel sector helps maximize the economic value of the UK in every pound spent on major infrastructure projects.

It contributes £ 2.1 billion directly to the national product, another 2.7 billion pounds indirectly, and £ 1.7 billion to the trade balance.

Steel will have a crucial role to play in fulfilling the government’s commitment to upgrading, especially by investing in new and updated infrastructure projects.

Ministers should look at the bigger picture. This vision recognizes that steel demand continues to grow, representing an additional £ 4 billion per year opportunity for domestic supply alone by 2030.

In other major advanced economies such as Japan and Germany, the sector remains strong. Just like there, steel production can be part of a highly developed and balanced economy in the UK.

First, the government could address investment barriers and make the UK the best place for international steel companies to place their capital investments.

This means removing surprisingly high electricity prices that producers face compared to their French and German counterparts.

This means embracing UK-made steel whenever possible for domestic infrastructure projects, and pushing procurement reform down the supply chain.

This would benefit not only steelmakers, but the entire economy. The government could also work to counter surges in imports by extending steel guarantees in the UK, which are due to expire in June this year.

These were introduced by the European Union in 2018 to prevent being flooded with massive flows of imported steel. Maintaining these safeguards protects jobs and protects the environment because they protect against over-dependence on imports.

A country that has a strong industrial base and can regulate its carbon production is a nation that can contribute to the struggle to protect our planet much more than one that simply imports steel.

Britain’s green agenda is UK Steel’s agenda.

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