Scottish Government offers up to £180k for next perm sec

Campaign seeks applicants who can “build trusted relationships” with ministers and lead change in a “complex environment”
Leslie Evans Credit: David Anderson for Dods

By Jim Dunton

13 Aug 2021

The Scottish Government has formally launched the search for its next permanent secretary and is offering a salary of up to £180,000 a year for the right candidate.

Current perm sec Leslie Evans described the role as an “outstanding opportunity to be at the heart of Scottish Government” in a tweet flagging the just-launched recruitment campaign, which is open to applications until 13 September.

Civil Service World reported in June that Evans would not serve a further five-year term as Scottish Government perm sec and that a successor was expected to be in place by the end of the year. Evans was appointed to her role in 2015 and is the first female holder of the post.  Her original term was due to expire at the end of last year but was extended to ensure “continuous leadership” throughout Brexit. She is now due to leave office at the end of January 2022.

The salary on offer in the just-launched recruitment campaign has a range of £162,500 to £180,000 in return for what is described as a “37-hour week”. Evans’ 2019-20 salary band was £170,000-£174,900 according to the Cabinet Office’s most recent transparency publication on the civil service’s top earners.

The candidate overview for the campaign to find Evans’ successor says one of the qualities the Scottish Government is looking for in its next perm sec is the ability to “build trusted relationships” with ministers and a range of other partners.

But it also acknowledges that the role, which carries with it responsibility fora £49bn budget,  requires a range of key skills.

“If you have successfully led change in a complex environment, have proven strategic and financial abilities, and believe you would be a highly effective operator in this political environment, then we very much hope you will consider this role,” it says.

It adds that in addition to occupying “a key leadership role across Scottish public services” and communicating the Scottish Government’s priorities, the perm sec is also responsible for leading the Scottish Government’s relationship with Whitehall and other devolved governments “in an evolving constitutional context”.

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

It 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 the prior contact between the officer investigating the claims and the women who made them.

Recruitment consultant Gatenby Sandseron is running the campaign to find Evans’ successor.

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