See job eligibility requirements: Head of Water Delivery

U.K. Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Bristol, UK 🇬🇧

London, UK 🇬🇧

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 🇬🇧

York, UK 🇬🇧

Reference number



£49,403 – £61,392

National: £49,403 – £55,823, London: £54,328 – £61,392 For details of our pay on appointment policy, please see below under the heading ‘Salary’.

Civil Service Pension with an average employer contribution of 27%

Job grade

Grade 7

Contract type


Business area

DEFRA – Environment – Water & Flood Management

Type of role


Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time, Job share, Part-time

Number of jobs available



Bristol, London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York

About the job

Job summary

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, sustaining a thriving rural economy, and supporting international nature, climate and biodiversity agendas.

Defra’s Environment Group is a friendly and collaborative group, working on some of Defra’s highest priority objectives. The group benefits from an inclusive culture and we are looking for candidates who can contribute to making this a welcoming and positive place to work.

Water is vital for life – clean, freshwater for drinking and sanitation, providing for farms and industry, creating and sustaining the ecosystems on which all life depends. Yet water is a finite natural resource, facing increasing pressures from climate change and population growth. Never before has political, media and public attention been focused on water as it is now. 

Water is a top priority for government. Our work on water is high profile, exciting and important, and we have set out an ambitious forward agenda in our flagship Integrated Plan for Water. The successful candidate will find themselves in a friendly, high-performing and inclusive Directorate, with a chance to make a personal and lasting difference to benefit people and the environment.

Job description

In April we published our Integrated Plan for Delivering Clean and Plentiful Water. The Plan for Water sets out 28 actions to deliver a healthy water environment, and a sustainable supply of water for people, businesses, and nature.

Delivering the Plan for Water is one of the Prime Minister’s top priorities. We have set-up the Plan for Water Delivery Programme to ensure the policy actions across the Water divisions are delivered effectively. The Water Delivery team is responsible for managing the Plan for Water Delivery Programme. Given the breadth and interdependencies of the Plan for Water actions, as well as the intense public scrutiny, the Water Delivery team is central to ensuring we deliver on water.

We are recruiting the Head of Water Delivery. This is a key role in one of the highest profile divisions in Defra. You will be responsible for the high quality and effective running of the Plan for Water Delivery Programme.

Through your team you will work to ensure the programme is on track and we are delivery on our water goals and legal targets. You will lead regularly updating the Defra Secretary of State, No.10 Delivery Unit, and Defra’s Executive Committee. You will work very closely with policy teams, be proactive to find solutions to unblock issues, and understand the subject water policy subject matter to spot the interdependencies.

You will be responsible for the overall strategy for improving the water system. This includes analysing the contribution of actions towards our water goals and outcomes, developing and maintaining the theory of change for delivering clean and plentiful water, as well as engaging closely with Defra’s Arm’s-Length Bodies, the public and external stakeholders.

Person specification

The post holder will require:

  • Strong delivery experience, working on high-profile issues with significant public interest
  • The ability to deliver a policy programme at pace through sound programme management
  • Excellent leadership skills and a strong track record in team management, motivating and empowering team members while retaining team and individual wellbeing and resilience
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills, with experience of building relationships and working with partners across Defra, government and external stakeholders. This includes communicating with, and briefing, Ministers and senior officials effectively
  • Experienced in juggling competing priorities and the ability to reprioritise at short notice. This is an area of significant public interest and you will need to be comfortable working at pace on a high-profile public policy area


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

  • Leadership
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Managing a Quality Service


Alongside your salary of £49,403, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs contributes £13,338 towards you being a member of the Civil Service Defined Benefit Pension scheme. Find out what benefits a Civil Service Pension provides.

  • Learning and development tailored to your role
  • An environment with flexible working options
  • A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
  • Civil Service pension with an average employer contribution of 27%

Blended Working

Defra operates a blended working policy subject to business need, giving people the flexibility to choose when and where they work and collaborate with others.

Individuals are expected to work from one of the office locations stated in the advert to connect with their colleagues, as required by their role and business team needs. There is flexibility to split the working week, spending minimum of 40-60% in the workplace, unless exceptional circumstances apply and/or you are a contractual home worker.

Things you need to know

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles (opens in a new window), and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience.

This vacancy is using Success Profiles (opens in a new window), and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience

Application Process

As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV and provide 250 word statements for the requested Behaviours.

  • Leadership
  • Delivering at pace
  • Seeing bigger picture
  • Managing a quality service

Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.


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.

Sift and interview dates to be confirmed. 


If successful at application stage, you will be invited to interview where you will be assessed on Behaviours and Strengths.

The interview will be conducted online via Microsoft Teams, an appointment link will be sent to you after booking your time.

A presentation or additional exercise may also be assessed.


Please be aware that this role(s) will be contractually based in a Defra group workplace/office. The successful candidate is required to carry out all their duties from a UK location, and cannot do so from an overseas location at any time.

Candidates applying for these roles will be based at one of the Defra hubs as advertised.  

For information, our core Defra hub locations are:

  • York – the Kings Pool
  • Newcastle – Lancaster House
  • Bristol – Horizon House (Please note that space at this office is limited and it may not be possible for all Policy roles to be recruited to this location)
  • London – 2 Marsham Street

Internal (core Defra) employees can apply for this role and choose to remain in their current location or to be based in one of the advertised locations.

All other applicants will be based in one of the advertised locations.

Defra continues to support a blended working model and candidates are currently expected to attend their office base  for 40-60% of the week.

Travel and subsistence will not be paid for travel to a base office location.

Reserve List

A reserve list may be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made.

Merit Lists

Where more than one location is advertised, candidates will be posted in merit order by location. You will be asked to state your location preference on your application.


New entrants to the Civil Service are expected to start on the minimum of the pay band. The internal roles rules apply to existing Civil Servants, i.e. level transfers move on current salary or the pay range minimum, transfers on promotion move to new pay range minimum or receive 10% increase. Either case is determined by whichever is the highest.

Visa Sponsorship Statement

Please take note that Defra does not hold a UK Visa & Immigration (UKVI) Skilled Worker License sponsor and are unable to sponsor any individuals for Skilled Worker Sponsorship.

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

Criminal Record Check

If successful and transferring from another Government Department, a criminal record check may be 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 circumstances 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. 

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.

A candidate is not eligible to apply for a role within the Civil Service if the application is made within a 5-year period following a dismissal for carrying out internal fraud against government.

Higher Security Clearance 

Please be aware the levels of national security clearance are changing which may impact on the level needed for this role by the time of appointment. All efforts will be made to keep candidates informed of any changes and what that will mean in terms of vetting criteria. For more information please See our vetting charter.

All of these posts require the successful candidate to hold basic security clearance. Candidates posted to London may 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.

Childcare Vouchers 

Any move to Defra from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility at

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


Successful candidates must undergo a criminal record check.

People working with government assets must complete baseline personnel security standard (opens in new window) checks.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window)
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020
  • Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service

Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window)

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code (opens in a new window) 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 (opens in a new window).

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.

The Civil Service also offers a Redeployment Interview Scheme to civil servants who are at risk of redundancy, and who meet the minimum requirements for the advertised vacancy.

Apply and further information

This vacancy is part of the Great Place to Work for Veterans (opens in a new window) initiative.

The Civil Service welcomes applications from people who have recently left prison or have an unspent conviction. Read more about prison leaver recruitment (opens in new window).

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 :

  • Name :Will Wakefield
  • Email

Recruitment team

  • Email

Further information

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.




IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development