15. The National Citizen Service ought to be closed or curtailed, its funding transferred into all-year round provision, of which summer activities will be a part.
We won’t get above ourselves, but perhaps the Local Government Association has seen the leaflet containing our proposals. Be that as it may, the National Citizen Service is coming under increasing pressure as this Guardian piece reveals.
Councils have urged ministers to shift funds from David Cameron’s residential youth scheme to their own year-round schemes after it emerged his project used 95% of all government spending on youth services despite reaching relatively few teenagers.
The Local Government Association said some of the £634m allocated to the National Citizen Service (NCS) over the past few years would make up for some of the cuts to council schemes. More than 600 youth centres had closed.
The NCS was one of Cameron’s early announcements as prime minister in 2010 – part of his “big society” policy. It offers three to four-week programmes where 15- to 17-year-olds work in teams on projects connected to skills and the community.
The scheme, which was allocated £1.5bn in funding overall, has faced criticism for lax spending controls and poor management.
Last month a parliamentary answer from Tracey Crouch, the culture minister, revealed the NCS had, in 2016 alone, spent almost £10m on places which were never filled.
Other questions from Labour to Crouch found that companies working with the NHS were permitted to make profits from the service and that two local partners delivering the scheme had hit serious financial difficulties.
You must forgive me for raising an eyebrow at the sweeping reply from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport [DCMS].
A spokeswoman for the Department for DCMS said the NCS had “improved the lives of 400,000 young people in disadvantaged areas across the country”.
Given the emphasis nowadays on what we are told is sophisticated data collection in the youth sector I might have expected a more revealing sense of what improvement and disadvantage mean. Then again perhaps not.
The response from such as the National Youth Agency, who have actively and uncritically supported Cameron’s increasingly discredited vanity project, will be significant. What price now the absurd claim that NCS is the fastest growing youth movement in the UK since the Scouts started a century ago? As if a grassroots youth movement could be created from above by government diktat.
Let’s keep the pressure on to revive and reimagine via the Labour Party consultation and NYA’s National Youth Work Week.