A public appointment is generally a ministerial appointment to the board of a public body or advisory committee.
Public bodies across the UK deliver important and essential public services. This includes large public bodies overseen by boards of directors and small, advisory committees made up of lay members, experts and specialists.
An appointee to the board of a public body will often be involved in:
- Providing direction and leadership – this includes setting the organisation’s strategy, agreeing business plans to deliver the strategy and recruiting key staff;
- Holding senior staff to account – this includes holding managers to account on how the body is managed, how business plans are delivered and how the budget is spent; and
- Representing the work and views of the body – this might be to ministers, parliamentarians, key stakeholders and the wider public.
Those appointed to advisory bodies provide independent, expert advice to government departments and ministers on specific issues.
A public appointment could give you a chance to:
- Give something back and contribute your expertise to help the community and influence decisions that affect everyone’s lives;
- Return from a career break;
- Meet people from all walks of life who also want to make a difference; and
- Develop your career, gain board experience and boost your skills.
Government Ministers typically make public appointments, although certain roles are appointed directly by HM The Queen and the Prime Minister. All appointments follow a recruitment process set out in the Governance Code for Public Appointments. The Commissioner for Public Appointments ensures that appointments are made in accordance with the Governance Code and the principles of public appointments. The full list of regulated public bodies can be found here.
Departments advertise posts on the Cabinet Office website and in some cases recruitment consultants will be employed to assist in finding candidates and receiving applications.
Those interested in a particular role will be required to submit a CV and expression of interest setting out your suitability for the role and demonstrating how you meet the required criteria.
A selection panel will shortlist candidates based on the requirements of the job and will invite shortlisted candidates to interview. Panels vary in size and composition, however each panel comprises a Chair and at least one independent member, normally with no connection to the organisation or the department in question.
Panels will shortlist candidates based on the requirements of the job and will invite shortlisted candidates to interview. Following interviews, the panel will prepare a report setting out which candidate(s) are capable of carrying out the role and therefore appointable. The Minister may choose to interview all appointable candidates prior to coming to a final decision.
Unsuccessful candidates can seek feedback on their application.
Diversity in public appointments
The Government has an ambition that, by 2022 half of all new appointees should be women and 14% of appointments should be made to those from ethnic minorities. However, this is not just about gender and ethnicity; diversity is about encouraging applications from candidates from the widest range of backgrounds.
The government published a Public Appointments Diversity Action Plan in 2017. One of the commitments was to commission a review of the barriers that disabled people face in applying for and taking up public appointments. The independent Lord Holmes Review, which was published on International Day of People with Disabilities 2018, explores how to open up public appointments to disabled people. You can read the Review in various accessible formats here, alongside the government’s response published in June 2019. The government accepted the principles of all Lord Holmes’ recommendations, which underpin the commitments in our refreshed Public Appointments Diversity Action Plan 2019.
The Cabinet Office’s Public Appointments Policy Team provides leadership and guidance to departments both to improve the quality of the appointments process and also to widen the pool of candidates applying for vacancies, thereby increasing the diversity of public boards.
The Team has responsibility for:
- Promoting public appointments
- Improving diversity
- Developing policy
- Identifying and supporting talent
All Public Appointments are advertised on this website and many are featured in the Public Appointments newsletter which is published fortnightly; to sign up to the newsletter, register or log in here.
The Public Appointments Policy Team can be contacted at:
Public Appointments Policy Team
Or follow us on Twitter: @publicappts