The community interest company (CIC) that ran the National Citizen Service programme until November 2018 still has nearly £10m in its accounts, which it says is “locked” and will be used to support young people.
NCS Trust CIC ran the government’s flagship youth social action programme until its responsibilities were transferred to a new royal charter body during the last financial year.
At this time all its public money was transferred to the new body. But its non-government income could not be transferred under the asset transfer scheme set out in the act of parliament that created the royal charter body. The money therefore remains unspent in the old organisation’s accounts.
This has prompted criticism from the Labour shadow minister for civil society, Vicky Foxcroft, who told Civil Society News that “£10m could go a long way towards funding frontline youth services”.
The CIC ran the programme for the first eight months of the financial year to 31 March 2019, and its accounts show that it has £9.97m left in reserves after transferring remaining government funding and debt to the new body.
It received £121.8m in central government funding for the eight months it was operating. It also distributed £99.3m to delivery partners and spent £19m on support costs.
The net assets transferred to the royal charter body on 30 November 2018 was valued at £2m. This included £12m in cash, but also £12.2m in amounts due to creditors within one year.
The royal charter body is expected to publish its first set of accounts by the end of March, which the CIC accounts say will provide a full report for the year to 31 March 2019, “in order to preserve transparency in the use of taxpayers’ funds”.
Contributions from parents
Just under a third of the money that is left in the CIC’s reserves relates to contributions from parents and guardians of young people who have taken part.
During the period, the CIC spent £1.6m of the £4.8m it received from parents or guardians on the programme, leaving £3.2m.
A spokesperson for NCS Trust told Civil Society News: “In the eight-month period to 30 November 2018, NCS Trust CIC received £4.8m of parental contributions of which £1.6m was spent on design, innovation and evaluation with the aim of improving the reach and the quality of the NCS programme experienced by young people.”
NCS participants are asked for a voluntary contribution of up to £50 towards the cost of the programme, which is estimated at around £1,500 per participant.
The spokesperson added that the £9.97m was “locked to be used exclusively to support young people’s NCS journey and broader civic engagement”.
Further details of how the money will be spent are expected to be announced later this year.
Shadow minister ‘outraged’
Last year the shadow minister for civil society, Vicky Foxcroft, submitted a freedom of information request to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport asking for details of its underspend, but the department declined her request.
Today she told Civil Society that this is evidence the organisation is not making the best use of its resources.
She said: “I am outraged – but not surprised - to learn that NCS is sitting on £10m of unused revenue. At the end of last year I asked DCMS to release details of the underspend, but was told the information was not in the public interest.
“NCS receives 95 per cent of all central government spending on youth services, yet it is clearly not making the best use of those huge resources. £10m could go a long way towards funding frontline youth services, with the potential to have a hugely positive impact on our young people.
“But at the moment that money is sitting in a bank account doing nothing.”