The Government has announced the extension of guidance that it says produces a 'level playing field' for British steel suppliers competing for public sector infrastructure contracts.
The guidance already applies to some government-backed schemes, such as HS2, and follows an announcement by HS2 Ltd of two contracts worth over £500m to help it develop plans for Phase 2 of the new rail link.
On Monday, against a backdrop of Tata Steel’s plans to sell its UK operations, the Cabinet Office, in conjunction with beleaguered business secretary Sajid Javid, announced the extension of procurement guidance to the ‘entire public sector’.
Phase 2 of HS2 takes the link beyond Birmingham
That guidance, issued last October, ‘encouraged’ Government departments to take into account the social impacts of competing suppliers when sourcing and buying steel.
The Government said ‘this will improve visibility of opportunities on major projects such as HS2 and Network Rail, so that UK steel suppliers will be able to bid’.
This week’s announcement interpreted that guidance as saying that Government departments ‘must consider the social and economic impact of the steel they source across all major projects’.
Ministers then extended this requirement to ‘all relevant contracts’ in the public sector.
A spokesman for HS2 Ltd told Transport Network: 'As with the rest of the materials for construction, steel is procured by the supply chain. HS2 Ltd positively encourages bids from British companies and are already holding discussions with UK suppliers to make sure they are in the best possible position to win contracts for the steel that will be needed for track, concrete reinforcements, overhead wires and other structures.'
Late last month HS2 Ltd published details of two major contracts for the second phase of the project.
One contract, valued at between £130m and £170m, was for a ‘Phase Two Development Partner (P2DP) that can integrate into the HS2 Ltd existing organisation to be part of the Phase 2 client function, to project manage and support its management of the development and deposition of the Phase Two hybrid Bill and to achieve Royal Assent’.
The other contract, valued at between £280m and £350m was for ‘Professional Services Consultants (PSCs) services to deliver Civils Design and Environmental services & Environmental Overview Consultant (EOC) services for Phase Two of HS2’.
Both contracts have a specified contract length of 90 months. HS2 ltd said that ‘groupings of organisations and consortia’ may apply in each case – by 25 April – but no company or consortium can bid for both contracts.