Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society
Chancellor George Osbourne has announced plans to increase participation in National Citizen Service (NCS) from 80,000 to 300,000 by 2020.
NCS is a government funded scheme which provides 16 and 17 year olds with the opportunity to build skills for work and life through residential activities and community work. It brings together people from different backgrounds and helps develop confidence and responsibility.
The announcement formed part of Osbourne’s 2015 Spending Review and a statement released by the Cabinet Office said that the expansion of NCS would support ‘hundreds of charities and third sector providers’.
Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, recently spoke of his support for the scheme at an NCS Trust event saying: “I have seen first-hand, both in my own constituency and on visits around the country, the transformative effect that NCS is having. Participants develop vital life skills, overcome challenges and become engaged in their local communities.
“NCS offers a unique opportunity for young people to meet others who may live fairly nearby, but who have completely different perspectives. They learn from each other. They collaborate to give back. I am hopeful that NCS can have long-term impacts as we strive for a more cohesive, more responsible, more engaged society.”
Critics, however, have questioned if expanding the NCS was the most effective use of government funding, especially as the scheme has regularly failed to hit participation targets.
Navca (National Association for Voluntary and Community Action) said: “Whilst the NCS does good work we question whether a national scheme like this is the most effective way of investing to foster volunteering and social action among young people. It should also be noted that the scheme is being expanded despite not hitting its target of recruiting 80,000 young people last year, falling 22,000 short.”