Scottish Government appoints senior DWP official as next perm sec

John-Paul Marks will succeed current perm sec Leslie Evans from January
John-Paul Marks Credit: DWP

By Jim Dunton

18 Nov 2021

The Scottish Government has appointed senior Department for Work and Pensions official John-Paul Marks as its next permanent secretary, three months after it formally launched the hunt for a successor to Leslie Evans.

Marks – who is known by the first-name abbreviation JP – is currently director general for work and health services at DWP,  a post he has held since 2019. Prior to that he was DG for operations at the department. Before he joined DWP he was head of corporate international relations at the UK Pensions Regulator.

The Scottish Government said Marks had been appointed by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in agreement with cabinet secretary Simon Case and would start the job on 5 January.

Sturgeon said Marks would bring a “wealth of experience” from his civil service career, working across a range of policy and delivery priorities.

“I look forward to working with him over the years ahead as we recover from Covid-19 and deliver on the government’s ambition to build a fairer, greener Scotland,” she said.

Case said Marks’s experience in building teams, delivering complex system reforms, major projects and improving services at scale would be “invaluable” in his new role.

During his time at DWP,  Marks also served as operations director for the Universal Credit programme.

Sturgeon thanked outgoing perm sec Evans for her leadership of the civil service in Scotland over almost seven years.

“The expertise and insight that Leslie has applied in leading the organisation through the notable and significant challenges of our day – such as EU exit and the Covid-19 pandemic – has been admirable,” she said.

“I join with so many across the Scottish public sector and beyond in wishing Leslie every success for the chapter ahead.”

Case said Evans had made a “significant contribution” to the leadership of the UK civil service.

The Scottish government launched the recruitment drive for its next permanent secretary in August, weeks after confirming that Evans would not serve a further term in the role. It advertised the job as coming with a salary of up to £180,000 a year.

Evans’s original five-year term in office had been due to expire last year, but was extended to ensure continuity of leadership in the face of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

She faced criticism during the inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of allegations of misconduct against former first minister Alex Salmond.

The Scottish Government had to pay around £512,000 in costs after its investigation of complaints was found to be unlawful at a judicial review brought by Salmond. A Scottish parliamentary inquiry into the process criticised Evans because she knew of prior contact between the officer investigating the claims and the women who made them.

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