U.K. nationals: SEO Posts in Floods and Water Cluster
Regular travel to London is likely to be required but frequency will depend on the business need for each role
About the job
In Defra, we deal with a vast range of issues that profoundly impact on people’s lives. We are responsible for England’s environment, our countryside and rural economy, the food and farming sectors and have lead responsibility for protecting the UK from a wide range of natural threats and hazards. Your role will be critically important to achieving our vision of ‘creating a great place for living’.
The Floods and Water cluster is responsible for policy development and delivery in pursuit of two 25 Year Environment Plan goals: clean and plentiful water and reducing the impact of natural hazards. Posts are available in the Water Services, Flood and Coastal erosion policy and Commercial policy teams. A senior scientific officer post is available in the evidence and analysis team advertised separately.
In Water Services, you will project manage the majority of our secondary legislative programme for water, leading particularly on revising regulations for strategic infrastructure projects, working closely with Ofwat, the Environment Agency and across Defra. You will also co-ordinate Defra’s response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendations in its National Infrastructure Assessment and lead on developing implementation plans for water supply, working with the regulators and their new Regulatory Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development. This role will be central to delivering new supply solutions to close the demand supply deficit which will become more acute in future as a result of population growth and climate change. This work will require careful and sensitive stakeholder handling. You will also need to take account of the broader review of utilities and economic regulation currently being undertaken by the National Infrastructure Commission, and be mindful of the need to ensure that the sector remains attractive for infrastructure investment.
In floods and coastal erosion, the post holder(s) will work on key high profile policies and cross-government initiatives. This might include assurance on our current and future flood long term flood defence investment programmes, or supporting an independent reservoirs review and taking forward the outcomes from that; as well as helping to develop and drive forward commitments in our forthcoming flood and coastal erosion management Government Policy Statement. You will need to be financially aware and able to work with a range of stakeholders to both develop policy and ensure delivery is in line with Ministerial expectations. The current FCERM delivery programme will see £2.6 billion of capital invested in flood defence schemes and a further £1 billion of funding for maintenance over six years, and you will work closely with the Environment Agency and other partners on significant and sometimes contentious policies and programmes, providing advice on policy development, legislative needs or casework to ministers and senior officials within Defra. Your role will also include supporting and/or leading our engagement with research projects and key departmental and cross government strategies, which include the 25 year Environment Plan, the new Environmental Land Management Scheme, the National Infrastructure Strategy, Industrial Strategy and/or Shared Prosperity Fund.
The Commercial Policy team manages Defra’s policy and financial interests in projects that will deliver our water, waste or food objectives. This includes the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a £4.3b 25-km long “super sewer” currently being built beneath the Thames to clean up the river, and the £130 million project to redevelop the iconic New Covent Garden Market at Nine Elms in London. Both projects are being delivered by external partners: the Thames Tideway Tunnel by the privatised water sector, and the redevelopment of new Covent Garden market by an independent arm’s length body.
The roles will involve building good relationships with these partners, ensuring we get the information that we need to manage any risks to our objectives and to support ministers to take decisions where necessary. You will also need to work effectively with other Government colleagues in Treasury and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority to maintain a consistent cross-Government approach. Both projects are at particularly key points and you will need to be able to keep an eye on our overall strategic aims and ministerial priorities when navigating the range of issues that arise at a more detailed level. You don’t need to have commercial experience for these roles as we have a range of expert advisors that we call upon, but you’ll need to be able to quickly grasp the key elements of the projects and be adept at communicating complex information in an accessible way for a variety of stakeholders. We work flexibly in the commercial policy team and there may be opportunities to get involved in the other projects we oversee, and we make every effort to ensure that post-holders get the opportunities they need to develop their career.
Whichever part of our directorate you join, you will work as part of a small team, but have opportunities to get involved with wider Directorate activities and development.
For all the roles, the work will involve:
• Effective planning and prioritisation to deliver, both yourself and through others, high quality policy or project and/or and legislative products to short timescales.
• Developing an in-depth knowledge of complex policy, case work and legislation; or of the projects in the case of the Commercial Policy Team.
• Working with a range of stakeholders in and outside government, including regulators.
• Using exceptional oral and written communication skills to deliver briefing for senior managers and ministers.
The following experience is essential and will be tested at sift and interview. Please ensure that you provide evidence of your experience in the “experience” box and through your CV:
• Experience of working with complex policy, case work or projects - identifying the key issues, the significant risks from them and options for Ministers that take account of those risks.
• A proven track record of being responsive to change - demonstrated through your ability to adapt quickly and develop new options/ideas as circumstances change.
The following experience is desirable and will be tested at interview:
• Some experience / knowledge of / involvement in the legislative and/or programme assurance process.
• Experience of working with / briefing ministers.
• Experience of working with, and delivering via, stakeholders in varying circumstances.
We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:
- Seeing the Big Picture
- Communicating and Influencing
- Changing and Improving
- Making Effective Decisions
We only ask for evidence of these behaviours on your application form:
- Seeing the Big Picture
• Learning and development tailored to your role
• An environment with flexible working options
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
• A Civil Service pension
• 25 days Annual Leave
Things you need to know
Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is counter-terrorist check.
Selection process details
This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience.
As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV. Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.
The sift will be conducted on an assessment of the experience essential to the job and the first two behaviours (Leadership and Seeing the big picture).
Should a large number of applications be received, an initial sift may be conducted using the lead behaviour, Leadership. Candidates who pass the initial sift may be progressed to a full sift, or progressed straight to assessment/interview.
At interview we will further assess behaviours and experience and test strengths.
A presentation will likely be required at interview.
The sift will be conducted during week commencing 14 October with interviews expected the following week.
If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.
If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:
Contact Government Recruitment Service via as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs.
Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional.
If successful and transferring from another Government Department a criminal record check maybe carried out.
Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment.
New entrants are expected to join on the minimum of the pay band.
In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service /Disclosure Scotland on your behalf. However, we recognise in exceptional circumstance some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing stating the job reference number in the subject heading.
Any move to Defra will mean you will no longer be able to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.
Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.
Working for the Civil Service
The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.
We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.
Apply and further information
Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.
Contact point for applicants
Job contact :
Mr Harmeet Singh Chhatwal
Recruitment team :
If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment. Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact Government Recruitment Services via email: If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission: Click here to visit Civil Service Commission