More than two thirds (68%) of British voters want David Cameron and his government to directly intervene in the ongoing UK steel crisis in a bid to stop thousands of workers losing their livelihoods. The Survation survey, of more than 1,000 people between 27 and 28 October, comes after 1,700 were made unemployed after SSI closed its Redcar plant.

The poll, which was commissioned by the Unite trade union, also follows the downsizing of Tata Steel's operations in Scunthorpe and Scotland and the company's axing of 1,200 jobs. Meanwhile, the government has promised to help the industry in the UK by "levelling the playing field".

The Cabinet Office, among other things, has urged government departments to take into account the "social impacts" of competing suppliers during procurement exercises. "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," said Matthew Hancock, the paymaster general.

"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."

But Unite have claimed the government is "failing to convince" the public that it is adopting the right approach. "The key test for the ministers is not more warm words, but the action they take to intervene to save steelmaking and manufacturing," said its general secretary, Len McCluskey.

"A continued failure to do so will rock public confidence in the government's handling of the broader economy and leave people thinking if it can't do the right thing by a strategically vital industry, what can we trust the government to get right?

"Our manufacturing sector is the backbone of Britain. It creates wealth for the exchequer and decent, skilled work for our people. It is criminal to let skilled men and women lose the jobs we need for our nation to remain competitive only for them to end up making sandwiches and stacking shelves."