Ministers are urging public sector clients to consider the social and environmental benefits of using British steel in construction projects.
The Cabinet Office has told all Whitehall departments and their offshoots to factor in the jobs created and carbon saved when contractors bids for construction work include steel from this country rather than abroad.
It has published a set of guidelines drawn up in collaboration with the Steel Procurement Working Group, one of three set up by ministers last month to help boost the ailing British steel industry.
The guidelines say they provide “greater clarity and scope to assess the most economically advantageous tender on a cost-effective basis that explicitly includes environmental and/or social criteria where they are linked to the subject matter of the contract and are transparent and non discriminatory”.
Paymaster general Matthew Hancock, who is also chair of the working group, said: “By asking procurers on major UK projects to consider social and environmental impacts, we are building a Britain that is happier, healthier and better off.
“We will always strive to get the best value for money for taxpayers and we are going to do so in a way that strengthens our economy and bolsters the long-term prosperity of people across the country.
“I don’t want contracts going abroad if the best bid is a British bid with all the social and economic benefits that brings.”
Departments have been asked to give a clear indication of their future demand for steel.
They have also been ordered to make sure bidders for main contracts set explain where their steel will come from. Where steel contracts have not been awarded before main contracts are signed, they should be openly advertised, the guidelines insist.
The guidelines apply to all projects worth more than £10M and which contain a “significant” steel element.