Two Fingers to Youth Service as NCS put on Statutory Footing

Even as late as a year ago with ChooseYouth in the lead pressure was being put on Labour to hold to its pledge to make the Youth Service statutory. The party reneged. It was hardly a surprise. For many it seemed to be the last throw of the dice in a decades long battle with successive governments around Youth Service, Youth Work and its status. Some compared this struggle to the search for the Holy Grail. Indeed with the election of the Tories the drive to undermine the last vestiges of open access, year round youth work  continued, forcing almost everyone to reconsider where we are up to and what might be the next step.

NCS logo

And now to add insult to injury the following is announced in today’s Queen’s Speech  (page 40).

National Citizen Service Bill

“National Citizen Service will be placed on a permanent statutory footing.”
The purpose of the Bill is to:
 To support the manifesto commitment to expand National Citizen Service by
encouraging thousands more young people to take advantage of the skillsbuilding
programmes offered (p.45).
 Put the National Citizen Service (NCS) on a statutory footing.
 Strengthen links between young people and schools, local governments and
central governments to promote participation in the programme.
The main benefits of the Bill would be:
 Using schools to reach every eligible young person and their parents to raise
awareness of NCS and give every young person the chance to participate.
 Using local authorities to inform young people and parents about NCS,
particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
 Using government’s existing contact points with young people and parents to
promote the programme and support other government policy through doing
 Providing the right level of accountability for the NCS delivery body and
improving the administrative and funding arrangements between government
and the body.
The main elements of the Bill are:
● Creating a new statutory framework to deliver the NCS.
● Putting a duty on all secondary schools, including academies, sixth-form
colleges and independent schools to promote the NCS to young people and
their parents.
● Putting a duty on local authorities to promote the NCS to young people and
their parents.
● Putting a duty on relevant Secretaries of State to report annually on how they
have promoted the NCS to eligible young people and parents.

Devolution: We are in discussions with the devolved administrations about extending the Bill to their jurisdictions by legislative consent motion. Key facts:  Since NCS began, over 200,000 young people have taken part in this life changing opportunity. NCS is the fastest growing youth movement in this country for a century with a 46% increase in the number of participants between 2013 and 2014.  7 in 10 participants felt more confident about getting a job as a result of NCS in 2014. NCS is now recognised by UCAS.  21% of NCS participants were eligible for free school meals, compared with around 8% of young people of the same age in the general population and 27% from non-white backgrounds compared to 19% of the general population.

As you know we are lectured constantly about our failure to make the case for youth work, our failure to be robust and rigorous, our failure to measure what we do. Hence many have seen no option, but to embrace the ideologically led outcomes and impact agenda. If you want evidence that the claim to be robust and rigorous and evidence-based,  is all smoke and mirrors, read the  NCS evaluations, which support this bill.  Evidently there is to be 1.2 billion pounds of investment in  Cameron’s pet project. Enough for now………forget the alcohol-free resolution… I need a drink.


  1. I being a grade 4 youth worker for many years and now aged 74 still volunteering in youth work know only too well the value of youth work.

    The problem was we were not given the resources to advertise what a great job we do no glossy advertising like connections had only the usual paper programmes and even they had to be in black ink only to save money!

    I for one can only express my concern for our future generations after all these cuts to a valuable service to young people.

  2. Ministers for youth have done nothing to support youth work or to promote the values and outcome to past and present governments. Unions also could have done more if they joined forces instead of fighting their own corners. NCS is all about getting YPto work for free.

  3. Challenge network who are the lead providers across London have made no effort to work with local authorities. Now they have reached the point where they cannot increase their numbers, despite the massive marketing budget, the councils are being forced to do their bidding and will no doubt take the blame if it fails!!!!

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