NCS found to account for 95 per cent of government youth service spend

By Neil Puffett

| 22 June 2018

The National Citizen Service initiative accounts for around 95 per cent of central government's direct spend on youth services, figures published in parliament have revealed.

The government has set aside around £1.2bn to deliver NCS up to 2020. Picture: NCS Trust

Statistics provided by youth minister Tracey Crouch in response to a question from Labour MP Cat Smith show that in the four years from 2014/15 to 2017/18, the Office for Civil Society spent £667.88m on youth programmes.

Of this, £634m went on the National Citizen Service - making up 94.9 per cent of the total.

The figures do not include money passed from central government to councils which goes on to be spent on local youth services. Research conducted by the YMCA published last month found that spending on youth services by English and Welsh councils has fallen by £750m between 2010/11 and 2016/17.

The NCS first launched in 2011, initially to a few thousand young people, but provision has been expanding each year, with the government setting aside around £1.2bn to deliver NCS up to 2020.

The figures released in parliament show that £117m was spent on NCS in 2014/15, £156m in 2015/16, and £180.5m in both 2016/17 and 2017/18.

In contrast £11.07m was spent on other youth programmes in 2014/15, £1.81m in 2015/16, £10.5m in 2016/17, and a further £10.5m in 2017/18.

Cat Smith Labour's shadow youth minister, said: "NCS provide great opportunities for young people. However, a four-week programme is not enough to make up for the systematic removal of youth services across this country.

"At a time of devastating cuts, the government cannot justify exclusively funding NCS at the expense of other vital youth services. Labour would ensure that youth social action projects such as NCS form part of much-wider offer for young people to ensure that every young person can realise their potential."

A study on the benefits of NCS, published in December, found that it has a "very positive short-term impact" for young people taking part.

But in May, a youth work campaign group called for the social action programme to be closed or curtailed and its funding used to revive local youth services. 

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