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About the Senior Civil Service

The Senior Civil Service is the government’s executive leadership team. They are responsible for ensuring that the Civil Service delivers the best services for the public.

Senior civil servants make strategic decisions, advise on policy and empower others to deliver. They lead the Civil Service, providing expert, impartial advice and support to Ministers and Parliament. Public service is at the heart of everything they do.

The Senior Civil Service comprises the four highest leadership levels across government. They uphold the Civil Service Code and the statutory values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.

Did you know…

We are moving 50% of Senior Civil Service roles outside of London by 2030 to open up opportunities across the United Kingdom

The modern Senior Civil Service was set up in 1996 comprising four grades from Deputy Director to Permanent Secretary

We have over 5000 senior civil servants spread across all departments, functions and professions

The Civil Service is always looking for talented senior leaders

Senior civil servants come from a range of backgrounds, professions and industries, bringing diverse perspectives into government leadership. The Civil Service wants to harness the power of these experiences to create change. Senior leaders actively shape this culture of inclusion.

What senior civil servants do

Members of the Senior Civil Service have significant levels of accountability. They make critical decisions that reach right across the Civil Service. They deliver large scale projects and manage public funds to secure value for money for the taxpayer. They may liaise with Ministers and support their department in responding to Parliamentary scrutiny.

Senior Civil Service roles are varied, exciting and rewarding. They involve leading areas that stretch right across the breadth of government. Examples of work done by senior civil servants include:

  • leading on supporting the Prime Minister’s major project delivery priorities
  • delivering first class financial services to build a stronger, greener future for the United Kingdom
  • managing the Government’s £42 billion Dreadnought Alliance, providing safe and capable submarines to the Royal Navy
  • directing a command of over 850 staff who help to keep Britain’s streets safe and borders secure

“I came into the Civil Service to make a difference to society and as a senior leader, the ability to do that is amazing. I make a difference through leading the locations strategy in the Cabinet Office, ensuring our people are based closer to the communities they serve.”

Carol Bernard

HR Director – People and Places, Cabinet Office

“Joining from outside the Civil Service, I was impressed with how smoothly everything ran from day one. My induction helped me to feel supported with the right knowledge and networks to transition into government leadership.”

Alexander Richarz

Executive Director – Contingent Liabilities Central Capability (CLCC), UK Government Investments

Benefits and training for senior civil servants

We invest in our senior leaders to help you reach your full potential and to better serve the public. On becoming a senior civil servant, you can expect: 

  • membership in the Civil Service Pension Scheme, with a generous pension and benefits for dependants
  • membership to one of our core professions, with an associated range of specific development opportunities to build your professional expertise
  • a comprehensive induction and a buddy that empowers you with the right knowledge, skills and networks to support you in your government leadership journey
  • tailored leadership and management support through the new Government Curriculum and specific development programmes such as the Senior Leaders Scheme
  • bespoke learning to help you understand how Parliament scrutinises government work and how you can support your department’s response

Progressing to the Senior Civil Service from within the Civil Service

Read about Anais’s career journey and key lessons learned along the way.

Decorative image: A photo of Alex Chisholm.

Ambitious plans to level up Civil Service career opportunities for people across the UK

Find out how we are creating more Civil Service opportunities across the country, closer to the communities we serve.