Construction clients across the public sector will have to justify the social impact of buying steel from abroad under rules announced by ministers this weekend.
The government said all state-funded steel procurement would have to be made with consideration of workforce benefits and carbon footprint.
Contractors working for the public sector will be required to advertise their requirements for steel so that UK firms can bid to supply it.
The government also pledged to establish a list of approved steel suppliers.
Business secretary Sajid Javid said: “I am determined to make sure we do all we can to secure a sustainable future for UK steel and find a viable solution that supports the workers and wider community.
“By changing the procurement rules on these major infrastructure projects we are backing the future of UK steel – opening up significant opportunities for UK suppliers and allowing them to compete more effectively with international companies.”
Tata Steel said last week that trading conditions in the UK and Europe had rapidly deteriorated due to factors including global oversupply; significant increase in imports; high manufacturing costs; weakness in demand; and volatile currency.