5 x HEO Policy Advisors

Bristol, London, York
£29,179 - £35,888
14 Oct 2020
19 Oct 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

5 x HEO Policy Advisors - REACH work programme x 2; Chemicals Framework; Pesticides Active Substances; International Strategy

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

About the job 

In the Defra group, 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 protection 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’.

This is a particularly exciting time to join the Defra group. We are leading on much of the government’s work to complete a successful exit from the EU. This will fundamentally change the work we do and how we deliver it. You will have the opportunity to contribute towards and influence the development of new approaches and policies on a wide range of issues affecting millions of people in the UK.

You will play an active role in shaping and delivering the Defra group’s priorities, working creatively and collaboratively with others to deliver excellent outcomes. You will have the opportunity to develop your own skills and future career.

Your personal qualities will be as important as your professional experience, and we welcome applications from all backgrounds. If you believe you have the skills and qualities we are looking for, then we would like to hear from you. The Defra group is dedicated to having a diverse workforce which represents people in our communities and an inclusive culture where everyone feels they can be their authentic self at work, belong in the organisation and can speak up to challenge. We want everyone to be able to contribute to the success of our organisation, regardless of your background.

Job description

Did you know that 350,000 chemicals exist on the market globally? By 2030, the global industry will double. Chemicals benefit society but the pace of innovation can exceed understanding of their potentially harmful effects to humans and the environment, which may require regulatory or other interventions. Chemical pollution is also one of the top five drivers of biodiversity loss.

The UK has not set out its overall approach to chemical management for over 20 years. Nor has the UK needed to deliver regulatory decisions across a number of regimes at the scale and complexity we must now take forward post transition period.

Pesticides policy and delivery forms part of this and is a fantastic area within Defra to lead some exciting and challenging teams. Plant protection products are currently an important component for many farmers, amenity users, local councils and householders to ensure that pests and weeds are managed. This needs to be balanced against our commitment to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides.

Our overall ambition is to ensure “chemicals are safely used and managed, and that the levels of harmful chemicals entering the environment are significantly reduced”. This is a 25 Year Environment Plan commitment (published Jan 2018). Following the end of the Transition Period, we must deliver the outcome of ensuring UK standards in the environment are protected, and trade systems influenced to support higher standards and sustainability. This means delivering significant policy and regulatory functions that have been repatriated from the EU.

Becoming a policy advisor is your chance to be part of a team delivering on this commitment. These posts range from delivering pesticides or chemicals regulations, shaping and delivering chemicals policy and international strategy.

No two posts are the same but in broad terms your work will include:
• The delivery of expertise in a specific area of policy. Alternatively, you may be asked to support across several different, but linked, policy areas.
• Being organised so that you plan and prioritise to deliver effective results.
• Building relationships with stakeholders within and outside Government, to help ensure that you are able to deliver the best results.
• To use evidence and your knowledge to help guide decisions that develop and delivery strategic policy.
• Supporting the team to provide effective and timely briefings to Ministers and senior officials.

Our policy areas are each split into Directorates, work-streams and projects that combine flexibly to deliver on Ministerial priorities. The Chemicals, Pesticides and Hazardous Waste Division delivers policies which ensure the effective management of chemicals throughout their life cycle, for everyone, the environment and the economy.

As a Higher Executive Officer Policy Advisor you will be part of a team who work with a range of both internal and external stakeholders. You will contribute towards the drafting of policy and strategy that support Defra’s key priorities. This means that you may develop specialist expertise and work across a small portfolio area. Alternatively, you may develop a more over-arching knowledge of a wider range of topics.

Your wider team will likely be made up of both counterparts and senior colleagues, working collaboratively, supporting each other to deliver one project. You will also build relationships with a variety of stakeholders. Internally, these could include Directors and Ministers, as well as your counterparts in other teams, whereas externally, this could include other government departments and agencies, devolved administrations, industry bodies, non-governmental organisations and UK citizens.

The posts offer some flexibility to be based outside of London, but the post holder is likely to be required to travel to London regularly, and may need to be able to attend meetings at short notice.

All of these posts require the successful candidate to hold basic security clearance. Candidates posted to London will be subject to a higher level of clearance because of the security requirements for that location. Job offers to these posts are made on the basis of merit. Security vetting will only take place after the receipt of a job offer.


Essential Criteria
• Experience of having had to quickly understand specific and complex work challenges.
• Evidence that you can identify the key issues and the significant risks that arise from your interpretations.
• A track record of having taken an innovative approach to work.
• Evidence that you can plan and prioritise effectively.
• Quickly respond to changing demands and priorities.
• Act on their own initiative and ensure deadlines are met.
• Quickly build good relationships with new people.


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Delivering at Pace


A career in the Civil Service is like no other. If you’re looking to join a great team and develop your career with us, then the Civil Service is the place for you! You might be wondering, “what’s in it for me”? Take a look below at some of the benefits available to you as a civil servant in Defra.

• A working environment that supports a range of flexible working options.

• A civil service pension.

• A working culture which encourages inclusion and diversity.

Defra is committed to taking positive action on diversity through recruitment, and actively encourage applications from as diverse a group of candidates as possible. We are particularly interested in applicants from communities such as BAME, LGBTQ+, veterans, disabled and ex-offenders, for example. The delivery challenges Defra faces are great, and we know that as a team and department we will only succeed by bringing a diverse set of views and backgrounds together. We are wholly committed to the Civil Service principles of diversity and equality of opportunity and will recruit through a fair, open and unbiased competition.

Access to learning and development tailored to your role:-

Everyone in Defra is supported to develop their skills and capabilities. When you join the Environmental Quality (EQ) Directorate, you will be welcomed into your new team through an induction programme that will provide you with helpful information on the civil service, Defra, our work and our policies. Your line manager will also work with you to establish your priorities for the fiscal year, developing a performance, learning and development plan tailored to you and your role.

We’re keen to invest in you! EQ ensures that each employee has clear learning and development opportunities funded through the financial year. As a civil servant, you will also have access to Civil Service Learning where you can participate in professional development programmes across a wide spectrum of subjects and professions.

Things you need to know Security

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.

People working with government assets must complete basic personnel security standard checks.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience.

Application process
After submission of the first stage of your application, you will be invited to complete a Verbal Reasoning. If you successfully pass the test, you will be invited to complete the second stage of the application.

Please complete the online tests as soon as possible (within 24-48 hours is recommended), the closing date for the tests is 23:55 on 19th October. If you fail to complete the online test before the deadline your application will be withdrawn. Guidance for the test will be available when you are invited to take the test. The tests are administered online and accessed via the CS Jobs website.

As part of the application process, you will be asked to complete 250-word statements on each of the following three Behaviours – (1) Communicating and Influencing; (2) Seeing the Big Picture, and (3) Delivering at Pace.

As part of the application process, you will also be asked to complete a CV. The CV will ask for your Job History, Qualifications and Past Skills and Experience.

Should a large number of applications be received, an initial sift may be conducted using the lead behaviour, Communicating and Influencing. Candidates who pass the initial sift may be progressed to a full sift, or progressed straight to assessment/interview.

Sift is likely to take place in mid to late October with interviews early to mid-November.

All candidates invited to interview will be required to give a short 5 minute verbal presentation. The topic will be provided prior to interview.

The interviews will be Behaviour, Experience and Strength-based.

**Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions, we will not be interviewing face-to-face at this time. All interviews will be conducted remotely via video call. Further information will be provided to candidates in advance of interviews.**

Reserve list
We have a number of opportunities coming up across EQ and Defra. Candidates who pass the interview criteria but are not offered a post will be kept on a reserve list for 12 months and may be offered similar roles elsewhere.

Near miss
Candidates who are judged to be a near miss may be considered for other posts in Defra which may be at a lower grade, but have a potential skills match.

Reasonable Adjustment
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 defrarecruitment.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk 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.

Criminal Record Check
If successful and transferring from another Government Department, a criminal record check maybe carried out.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service 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 Pre-Employment.Checks@cabinetoffice.gov.uk stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

Childcare Vouchers
Any move to Defra will mean you will no longer be able to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You will however have access to the governments Tax Free Childcare scheme.

Internal Fraud Database Check
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.

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: defrarecruitment.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

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

We are closely monitoring the situation with regard to Coronavirus, and will be following central Government advice as it is issued. There is therefore a risk that recruitment to this post may be subject to change at short notice. Please continue to follow the application process as normal and ensure that you check your emails regularly for any updates from us as this is how we will communicate with you.

If you are experiencing accessibility problems with any attachments on this advert, please contact the email address in the ‘Contact point for applicants’ section.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.

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 equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.