Senior Policy Officer

Grade: SEO

Reference: 205462

Location: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York

Salary: £35,895 to £40,613 £35,895 - £40,613 For details of our pay on appointment policy, please see below under the heading ‘Salary'

Closing Date: 08 Jun 2022


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’.

Would you like the opportunity develop an overarching knowledge of a wide range of policy topics?

As a Senior 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. Your ability to contribute isn’t limited by lack of specialist knowledge, we value the importance of an individual’s range of skills. This means that you may develop specialist expertise and work across a small portfolio area.

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.

Job description

Defra’s profile has never been higher; our remit provides the opportunity for real influence. Our policy areas are each split into Directorates, work-streams and projects that combine flexibly to deliver on Ministerial priorities.

Your wider team will likely be made up of both counterparts and senior colleagues, working collaboratively, supporting each other to deliver one project. There is also the potential that you will line manage a small team of HEOs and EOs.

You will be building 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 industry bodies, non-governmental organisations and UK citizens.


As a Senior Policy Advisor, you will be part of a team of experts that is delivering on Defra’s top priorities. No two posts are the same but in broad terms your work will include:

• Understanding a range of different policies and leading on selected policy areas;
• Using evidence and expertise from within and outside Government, to help guide decisions about how policies are developed and delivered;
• Supporting policy teams to brief Ministers and senior officials;
• Planning and prioritising effectively to deliver high quality results to time
• In some cases there will be responsibility for a small team of HEOs and EOs.

About You

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 others when needed. We want everyone to be able to contribute to the success of our organisation, regardless of your background.

Essential Criteria

The following experience is essential to these posts and will be tested at sift and interview:

• You will have a proven track record of communicating confidently and concisely.
• You will have evidence that you have managed relationships with a range of stakeholders, ideally both internally and externally.
• You will have evidence of planning and prioritising effectively to meet deadlines, remaining calm to deliver results at pace.
• Experience of working with complex policy areas, identifying the key issues and the significant risks from within them.
• Experience of advocating an innovative approach, seeking opportunities to do things differently or starting from a blank page, and then being responsive enough to adapt or develop new options as circumstances change.
• Experience of staff management and/or developing skills and capability of teams.
• Ability to quickly respond to changing demands and priorities, with the confidence to take quick decisions often without comprising the quality of work.
• Ability to act on your own initiative and ensure deadlines are met.
• Ability to quickly build good relationships with new people and work with them find the best solution that meets everyone’s needs.
• Experience of preparing drafts for a range of audiences, and communicate verbally with confidence.
• Exceptional creative problem-solving skills and the ability to propose innovative solutions to challenges.


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

  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Working Together
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Communicating and Influencing

We only ask for evidence of these behaviours on your application form:

  • Making Effective Decisions

Technical skills

We’ll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • Policy Framework Level 2 – 1.2 Data, Analysis, and Scientific Advice – Apply research methods to model, test, and improve policy solutions.