Social Security Advisory Committee - Chair

Body: Social Security Advisory Committee
Appointing Department: Department for Work and Pensions
Sector: Regulation
Location: National , although you will be expected to travel to London for SSAC meetings
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £22,000 per annum
Time Requirements: Five days each month


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Press release
New Chair of The Social Security Advisory Committee appointed
Dr. Stephen Brien is confirmed as the new Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced that Dr. Stephen Brien has been appointed as Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC).

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) is an independent statutory body that provides impartial advice on social security and related matters. It scrutinises most of the complex secondary legislation that underpins the social security system.

Dr. Stephen Brien was selected for the huge wealth of experience he has amassed, after working with organisations domestically and abroad committed to improving the lives of the most vulnerable.

Stephen has brought analytical and consulting experience to diagnosing the issues and developing implementable solutions, including through his work developing welfare reform agendas with the Centre for Social Justice.

Speaking on his appointment, the Lords Minister for Work and Pensions Baroness Stedman-Scott said:

“I am pleased to announce that Dr. Stephen Brien will be the next Chair of The Social Security Advisory Committee.”

“Over the last 25 years, Stephen has worked across academic, professional services, government and third-sector organisations.”

“Stephen brings a breadth of leadership experience across a range of public services and his insights on policy will be invaluable. I look forward to working with him.”

“I also thank Liz Sayce for all of her contributions as Interim Chair, her work has been truly appreciated.”

Dr. Stephen Brien said:

“I am delighted to be appointed as Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee. The Committee plays an important role contributing to the development of a social security system that works for all. I would like to thank Liz Sayce and Carl Emmerson for all their contributions as Interim Chair and Vice Chair respectively, and look forward to working with them and the other committee members in providing constructive and independent advice to the Government.”

Dr. Brien will take up his post from 14 September 2020 for a four-year term and will replace Liz Sayce, Acting Chair, who stood down on 31 August 2020.

Further information

•The Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee is appointed by the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions. This appointment was made following an open competition regulated by The Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments.
•Remuneration for the Chairman’s role is £22,000 for a minimum of 60 days per annum.
•For more information about the Social Security Advisory Committee can be found here.

Date: 06/10/2020

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement

    06/10/2020 at 09:00


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) is an independent statutory advisory body, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It has the following statutory functions:

  • to perform, on behalf of both the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Parliament, a mandatory scrutiny of most of the proposed secondary legislation that underpins the social welfare system; and
  • to provide advice and assistance to the Secretary of State, whether in response to a specific request from the UK Government or on its own initiative.

In addition to the scrutiny of proposals for secondary legislation, the Committee’s general advisory functions are deployed to:

  • inform the Committee’s work, improving members’ ability to scrutinise regulations and provide independent advice to Ministers;
  • add value to the debate on a topic that is of current interest to Government and stakeholders; and
  • stimulate debate of a specific topic within the Committee and amongst stakeholders.

Recent examples of the Committee’s reports can be found here:

The Committee responds to the Department’s public consultation exercises where appropriate, and Ministers may also seek SSAC’s views on specific issues. The Committee may also select issues itself which it wishes to research and report on as part of its independent work programme. The Chair and Committee members meet regularly with Ministers and senior officials to discuss topical issues and also meet front-line staff and customers in the course of their visits to operational sites.

The Committee is independent of Government, the Department and sectional interests. It has a strong track record in offering informed, expert advice. Members come from a variety of backgrounds, but collectively they have a considerable depth of knowledge and expertise in social security policy, law and the wider social policy agenda.

More information can be obtained from SSAC’s website at


The Role of the Chair

In setting the strategic direction for the Committee, the SSAC Chair will be required to demonstrate strong leadership in harnessing the skills, expertise and experience of a diverse Committee membership ensuring that it operates effectively as a team. The successful candidate will have the ability to build constructive relationships at senior levels (both in Government and with external stakeholders) and demonstrate good judgement.

The Chair will ensure the Committee provides an independent view (independent of both Government and other interested parties) which is evidence based and which reflects a wide range of perspectives.

Scrutinising, and where the Committee so decides, reporting on draft regulations entails mastering complex legal and technical detail, as well as understanding the operational context in which legislation will be brought into effect. The Chair will be able to draw on the considerable knowledge and expertise of the Committee membership during the scrutiny process, however they will need to have the capability to pick up on detailed proposals quickly in order that he/she can communicate credibly with Ministers, stakeholders and the media as appropriate.

The Chair also develops and maintains productive and constructive relationships with Ministers, Committee colleagues, senior civil servants, and the Committee’s external stakeholders in the course of SSAC’s work. The Chair does this through a mixture of formal and informal meetings and visits, attendance at events and conferences and through attending the Committee’s own stakeholder events. Due to potential Covid-19 restrictions the Chair will need to be confident in chairing online discussions given the uncertainty over where meetings will take place.

The Chair and Members have access to sensitive proposals from time to time. These are shared with the Committee in confidence.


Person Specification

Essential Criteria

1.Strong, measured and balanced leadership qualities with the ability to set and shape the strategic direction of the Committee, and to harnesses effectively the expertise and experience of a diverse Committee membership ensuring that it operates effectively as a team;

2.Ability to operate constructively and build positive relationships with Committee colleagues and senior stakeholders (for example in this role you will regularly work with Ministers, senior Whitehall officials, Parliamentarians and other senior stakeholders) – communicating effectively/persuasively and demonstrating sound judgement;

3.An interest in social security issues and the ability to understand, evaluate and advise objectively on complex issues relating to social security;

4.Ability to take an impartial view (independent of both Government and other interested parties) which reflects a wide range of perspectives. To be credible, the Chair will need to be able to demonstrate their independence from the Committee’s primary stakeholders;

5.An understanding of Government policy and the political and financial context in which social security policy operates; and

6.The capacity to devote around five days per month to the Committee.


Desirable Criteria

An understanding of finance and governance issues including managing public money and financial probity


How to Apply

In order for us to progress your application please submit the following completed documentation:

1. A CV (maximum 2-3 pages) with your education and professional qualifications and full employment history.

2. An accompanying Supporting Statement (maximum 2 pages, font 12) – this is your opportunity to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria set out in this information pack. You should aim to provide specific examples that demonstrate how your knowledge and experience matches each of the criteria, and which describe what your role was in achieving a specific result.

Please ensure your full name and the post for which you are applying are clearly noted at the top of your CV and Supporting Statement.

3. Personal Information Form Most of the information requested is not seen by the panel assessing your application (though the panel may consider your declaration of interests).

4. Diversity Monitoring Form. Collecting and analysing candidate data will help us improve our diversity strategy. It will allow us to run more successful recruitment exercises in the future and ensure that competitions are fair for all. This form is not part of the selection process and will be treated in strictest confidence. It will be kept separate from your application and not be seen by the selection panel.

Please email your application by 23:00 on 01/06/2020 to:

If you have any difficulty in sending your application or need the application pack in an alternative format (e.g. Braille, large print, audio CD, tape or e-text), please contact the ALB Public Appointments Team on 0207 7449 7181 or 020 7449 7437


Diversity Form (SSAC Chair)
Personal Information Form (SSAC Chair)
Candidate Pack (SSAC Chair)
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