Prime Minister pledges 'NCS for all'
Thursday, October 2, 2014
The National Citizen Service (NCS) will be massively expanded if the Conservatives win the next general election, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday, Cameron said he is “so proud” of the NCS that he wants it to become a “rite of passage for all teenagers”.
Cameron said during his speech: “Every summer, thousands of young people are coming together to volunteer and serve their community. We started this.
"One thing I hear a lot is parents saying ‘thank you for what this has done for my child’.
“So I can tell you that the next Conservative government will guarantee a place on the NCS for every teenager in our country.”
The Prime Minister’s commitment comes despite recent analysis showing savings from the voluntary personal and social development programme could be as little as nine pence for every £1 spent delivering it.
During the conference, new minister for civil society Rob Wilson also said growing NCS would be a key objective of his work at the department.
Speaking at a fringe event hosted by NCS, Wilson said: “I want to see this massively expanded if that’s at all possible.
“I am ambitious about what we can do with this project and how far we can push it in terms of growth.
“We also need to raise awareness of it so more young people can take advantaged of the opportunities these courses hold.”
Wilson, who took over the post at the weekend following the surprise resignation of Brooks Newmark, said he has taken a “particular interest” in the volunteering programme after seeing the difference it made to young people living in his constituency of Reading East.
He said: “I have seen first-hand how it makes a real difference to young people in terms of building new skills and at the same time meeting new people, making new friends and embracing community projects.
“This [NCS] is terrific value for money in terms of the contribution it can make in bringing out confident, more assertive, more engaged young people.”
Michael Lynas, chief executive, NCS Trust: “We are really pleased to have this public commitment from the Prime Minister that would allow all young people who want to take part a place on this transformational programme.
"Working with our partners in the voluntary and youth sector that deliver such high quality programmes, this commitment will allow us to extend our impact and to play our part in creating a more cohesive, responsible and engaged society.”
The NCS, which in February was transferred out of government control to become an independent trust, saw nearly 40,000 young people take part in week-long programmes over the summer and autumn in 2013 (the most recent figures).
Analysis form Ipsos Mori estimated that accrued benefits – such as improved education outcomes, volunteering, leadership skills, general wellbeing and reduced smoking and drinking – were worth between £1.09 and £6.10 for every £1 spent in 2013.
NCS Trust has a target of reaching 125,000 young people by 2016, by when Cabinet Office funding will end and it should be self-sustaining.