Economic Adviser - Productivity and Horticulture

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bristol, London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York

Application Deadline
£52,120 - £64,380

We have a rare and exciting opportunity for an Economic Advisor to join the Farming Economics Team within the evidence and analysis division of Defra’s Farming and Countryside Programme. The post holder will gain first-hand experience of using economic analysis to inform domestic agricultural policy, as we transition away from the system of direct payments under the EU’s common agricultural policy towards a system of paying farmers and land managers for the provision of public goods. As we move away from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy towards a wholly new approach for the agricultural industry, we are committed to working together with the industry to deliver one of the biggest industry changes to any sector anywhere in the UK. Farming is a sector that’s going through a once in a generation change. We are looking for an exceptional analyst who is a self-starter, ambitious and able to work at pace.

We recognise the challenges that people with (multiple) protected characteristics may experience on the job market and in their career progression. We are fully committed to being an inclusive employer and ensuring equal opportunities. We are keen to make our workforce as diverse as possible, and we hope to attract applications from underrepresented groups.

Job description

Defra is the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food & farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Our broad remit means we play a major role in people's day-to-day life, from the food we eat, and the air we breathe, to the water we drink. 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 role sits within the Farming Economics team in the evidence and analysis division of Defra’s Farming and Countryside Programme. The Programme is the principal mechanism for delivering policies and support to farmers to achieve our key goals for farming – productivity, Net Zero Strategy, 25 Year Environment Plan and animal/plant health and welfare. Delivery is through a mix of grants and other support and also regulations underpinned by the Agriculture Act and set out in our Agricultural Transition Plan (until 2028).

The Farming Economics Team aims to ensure the Farming and Countryside Programme optimises the social value of public spending, minimising unintended consequences, and ensures both an efficient and proportionate regulatory system. We aim to improve understanding of the incentives and market dynamics in farming such that the Department's goals of a thriving agricultural sector and an improved natural environment are achieved.   We are seeking an ambitious economist to take up an Economic Advisor role.

In this role you will:

  • Integrate yourself with policy to ensure we have the evidence available in a timely manner to help develop and appraise productivity-focused agricultural schemes. This will involve the full policy development cycle including production of relevant business cases where relevant.
  • Lead the evidence base for the horticulture sector for the department.
  • Lead relevant analysis on various productivity schemes required for the Spending Review and inputs to the Programme Business Case.
  • Work in a fully integrated way with social research colleagues to ensure we are learning what we can from existing schemes and collating and producing the required evidence for specific policy areas.

Person specification

This is a high-profile area with significant ministerial interest so the post-holder will need to be flexible, being able to adapt to changing priorities. This post will provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate and/or develop a wide range of general and profession-specific skills. The role would suit individuals who are keen to demonstrate analytical leadership and are capable of setting direction in a challenging and high-profile environment.

The successful candidate will:

  • Have an established record of using economics to inform policy or similar decisions.
  • Understand policy colleagues’ pressures and objectives and apply evidence to ensure full consideration in policy design and implementation of the value for money.
  • Have a proven track record on building strong teams, including, for example with policy and social research colleagues, to ensure understanding of needs and confidence in delivery.
  • Work in partnership with other analysts and scientists within and outside government, and across departments to achieve high quality, robust and relevant input
  • Be able to present technical evidence to non-economists both orally and in writing, at a working level and at senior Board meetings such as Investment Committee.
  • Experience of working at pace and delivering through uncertainty
  • Line manage at least 1 junior economist

Essential Criteria

Applicants must demonstrate:

  • Strong analytical skills, and ability to demonstrate analytical leadership
  • Experience of leading a team
  • Experience of being a self-starter, and demonstrating ability to work on own initiative, in identifying opportunities for evidence and delivering high quality analytical outputs
  • Experience of collaborating with colleagues across professions and with different backgrounds to deliver shared outcomes.
  • Experience of working at pace and delivering through uncertainty
  • Experience of communicating analysis to a non-technical audience.

Entry Requirements:

  • Successful applicants for this role must be a full member of the Government Economic Service (GES) or be prepared to become a member.
  • Civil Servants who are currently a member of the GES will retain their professional membership in this role.
  • Applicants without membership will be considered for accreditation between the application sifting and interview stage.
  • This means you must meet the academic entry requirements. Links to the entry requirements are below.
  • Government Economic Service (GES)
  • Technical Competence Frameworks:
  • All applicants will need to demonstrate they have the competences listed in the technical framework for their relevant profession.
  • Applicants who are currently a member of the GES and seeking promotion will be assessed for promotion within their profession as part of the selection process.
  • Applicants without a current affiliation will be notified if there are other entry tests which need to be successfully completed to ensure compliance with their professional group's requirements.
  • Further information about competency/technical skill level requirements can be accessed via the links below.
  • The Government Economic Service (GES) technical framework
  • Government Economic Service (GES)


You must hold a first or upper second-class honours degree with at least 50% of the modules in economics or have a master’s degree in economics. Modules must have covered both micro and macroeconomics to qualify and if you graduated more than five years ago then you must have examples of how you have maintained your economic knowledge on the technical skills section of the application.


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

  • Leadership
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Working Together

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

  • Leadership
  • Seeing the Big Picture

Technical skills

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

  • GES Technical Framework including: - Application of knowledge - Analysis of Data - Effective Communication

Apply before 11:55 pm on Monday 22nd April 2024

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