Rural Payments Agency (RPA) Non-Executive member of the Management Board and member of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee

Body: Rural Payments Agency (RPA)
Appointing Department: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Sector: Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Location: Any Location
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £375 per day
Time Requirements: 25 days per year

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    08/12/2020 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date

    W/C 11th January

  • Announcement

    W/C 18th January


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

About the Rural Payments Agency (RPA)

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Established in October 2001 as an accredited European Union (EU) Paying Agency, the RPA is responsible for making direct aid and rural development payments to farmers in England. It is also the paying agency for market support measures across the United Kingdom under the authority of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and as appropriate in agreement with the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland. The RPA also has responsibility for livestock identification and traceability services within Great Britain.

Following the EU referendum and until the transition period ends, the UK remains a full member of the European Union. During this time RPA and Defra will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation. The outcome of EU exit negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU legislation and funding in future once the UK has left the EU in January 2021. The RPA will work with Defra to provide expertise, advice and guidance relevant to the work of the agencies in these future negotiations.

The role and structure of the RPA’s Management Board & Audit and Risk Assurance Committee

The post will see you become a Non-Executive member of the RPA’s Management Board and an active member of the RPA’s Audit and Risk Assurance Committee.

Non-Executive Directors advise, challenge and provide independent advice to RPA’s Management Board to ensure that the most appropriate strategy and development plan is being designed by the organisation. You will provide a high level of insight into the issues facing the rural economy and will offer a balanced view based on their leadership position within the agricultural sector. You will also be an ambassador for the work the RPA does and work with the RPA Executive to help us to continually improve to deliver for our customers.

RPA Management Board

The role of the RPA Management Board is to ensure that effective arrangements are in place to provide assurance on risk management, governance and internal controls. It has no executive responsibility and acts to provide independent, expert advice and challenge to the Chief Executive Officer. The Board will provide advice on strategy and the deliverability of policies and key objectives (agreed annually with Ministers) achieving value for money, scrutinise performance and provide support and challenge in the delivery of the RPA responsibilities and the exercise of the Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) responsibilities as Accounting Officer. The Board takes into account guidance issued by the Department and will receive and review regular financial information concerning the management of the RPA; and provides positive assurance to the department that appropriate action has been taken on such concerns.

The RPA Management Board is chaired by a lead Non-Executive Director. It comprises of three other Non-Executive Members, four Executive Directors (including the CEO) and Defra’s Corporate Customer. The Board meets a minimum of six times a year

RPA Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC)

The Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) is a committee of the RPA Management Board. It has no executive responsibility and acts solely as an advisory committee to the Management Board and to the Accounting Officer.

Its aim is to support and advise on issues of risk, control and governance within the agency. The role of Non-Executive Directors is largely to provide an effective challenge function to the executive. They have a responsibility to ensure the audit programme is focused on Agency priorities so that they can assure the Accounting Officer that appropriate controls are in place and operating effectively. Non-Executive Directors also play a key role in ensuring high standards of financial probity and corporate governance.

The Audit and Risk Assurance Committee will meet at least four times a year and will be scheduled at key points along the accounts timetable. The Chair of the ARAC may convene additional meetings when they consider it necessary, or at the request of other members.

Membership comprises of three Non-Executive Directors (including the Chair) and is normally attended by the Finance Director, Head of Internal Audit, Defra Internal Audit and the National Audit Office. Committee members can also meet without others present should the occasion arise.

The role of a Non-Executive Director is to:

• Provide scrutiny and constructive challenge on performance and operational issues, including operational and delivery implications of policy.

• Attend Board and / or Committee meetings and maintain a high standard of discussion and debate, helping to steer the agency by collective working.

• Ensure compliance with the Corporate Governance Code, Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies and rules relating to the use of public funds and conflicts of interest. Any deviations from the Codes are adequately explained.

• Ensure that the Board obtains and considers all appropriate information through close collaboration with the Chair.

• To meet regularly with the other Non-Executive Directors to ensure their views are understood and that the Chair is made aware of any concerns.

• Contribute to the delivery of the Annual Report and Accounts and Business Plans.

• Communicate regularly with the other Non-Executive Directors and senior officials

• Attend Board meetings and maintain a high standard of discussion and debate, helping to steer the Agency by collective working.

Expected behaviours of individual Board members

In addition to the Seven Principles of Public Life detailed in Annex A, Board members are expected to:

• Comply at all times with the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies and with the rules relating to the use of public funds and to conflicts of interest;

• Not misuse information gained in the course of their public service for personal gain or for political profit, nor seek to use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests or those of connected persons or organisations;

• Comply with the board’s rules on the acceptance of gifts and hospitality, and of business appointments; and

• Act in good faith and in the best interests of the RPA.

The vacancy is for a Non-Executive member of the RPA Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (meets four times a year) and member of the RPA Management Board (meets six times a year).

Person Specification

Essential criteria

We are particularly interested in individuals who can offer the following skills and experiences:

• Business / industry knowledge and experience, particularly in farming or related industries

• Sufficient strength of character to seek and obtain full and satisfactory answers within the environment of the Board and Committee, and to influence effectively outside of the RPA

• A good communicator, able to represent and be an ambassador for the RPA and articulate its purpose clearly, with well-developed influencing skills and personal credibility

• Excellent interpersonal skills including the ability to build effective team relationships with the Board and executive, Ministers, delivery partners and stakeholders generally.

Desirable Attributes

• Integrity, probity and high ethical standards, with a comprehensive understanding of the principles of governance and systems of control, and how to apply them appropriately

• An ability to maintain a sense of perspective and to pick out critical issues, and to question intelligently, debate constructively, challenge rigorously and decide dispassionately

• Independence of mind and sound judgement, together with the ability to provide impartial, objective and pragmatic advice

• An understanding of government and experience of serving on an Audit Committee and / or Board meetings

• Familiar with current approaches to risk management, internal control and corporate governance including internal and external fraud

• A commitment to the seven principles of public life, together with the willingness and availability to devote the necessary time to understand the business dynamics and context

Additional Information

The recruitment process

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 8th December. We expect to have shortlisted by mid-December, with interviews during January 2021.

It is essential that your statement of suitability gives full but concise information relevant to the appointment, clearly demonstrating how you meet the criteria for the post.

Interviews are expected to take place by video conference and will last for approximately 40 minutes. Further details about the format will be provided to you in advance.


We recognise that existing Board appointees are not fully reflective of diversity in society. We want RPA Boards to better reflect the users they serve. That’s why we positively welcome applicants from all backgrounds.

Disability Confident

We guarantee to interview anyone with a disability whose application meets the minimum criteria for the role. By ‘minimum criteria’ we mean that you must provide evidence in your application which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as well as meeting any of the qualification, skills or experience defined as essential. The Cabinet Office and Defra is committed to the employment and career development of disabled people. If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes where possible. If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, please refer to the ‘How to apply’ section below.

If you wish to apply under this scheme, please state this in the covering email or letter when submitting your application.

Reasonable adjustments

If you would like a confidential discussion regarding any reasonable adjustments during the process, please also indicate this in the covering email or letter.

Conflicts of interest and due diligence

If you have any interests that might be relevant to the work of the RPA and which could lead to a real or perceived conflict of interest if you were to be appointed, please provide details in your application.

Given the nature of public appointments, it is important that those appointed as Members of public bodies maintain the confidence of Parliament and the public. If there are any issues in your personal or professional history that could, if you were appointed, be misconstrued, cause embarrassment, or cause public confidence in the appointment to be jeopardised, it is important that you bring them to the attention of the Advisory Assessment Panel and provide details of the issue(s) in your application. In considering whether you wish to declare any issues, you should also reflect on any public statements you have made, including through social media.

As part of our due diligence checks we may consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This will include us undertaking searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. This information may be made available to the Advisory Assessment Panel and they may wish to explore issues with you should you be invited to interview. The information may also be shared with ministers and Cabinet Office.

Ineligibility criteria

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

• you become bankrupt or make an arrangement with creditors;

• your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors;

• you are disqualified from acting as a company director under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986;

• you have been convicted of a criminal offence, the conviction not being spent for the purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (c. 53);

• you become subject to a debt relief order or a bankruptcy restrictions order;

• you fail to declare any conflict of interest.

How to Apply

If you wish to apply for this post, please supply the following:

1) A copy of your CV, (no more than two sides of A4) including your current postal and email address and contact telephone (mobile and home) number(s).

2) A statement of suitability (of up to 1,000 words or no more than two sides of A4) outlining how you meet the essential criteria for this post and providing specific examples. Please note the closing date for applications is midday Tuesday 08th December.

3) Monitoring form 1 – Political Activity and Conflicts of Interest Questionnaire

These should be returned to Philip Wright by the closing date: 12:00 (midday) on Tuesday 08th December:

• email to, quoting reference RPA NED Recruitment.

Short-listing will determine which candidates best demonstrate the specified qualities and experience, who will then be invited for interview during January 2021. Please let Philip know if your availability on these dates will be an issue.


Any enquiries can be directed to Philip on 07557 087406 or at the above email address. Please let us know if you need a change to be made so that you can make your application or require additional assistance to support you in your application.


References may be taken up prior to appointment.

1_Monitoring form 1 (Political Activity and CoI Questionnaire)
2_ Annex A - The Seven Principles of Public Life

This post is NOT regulated by The Commissioner for Public Appointments.

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