The Cabinet Office has committed itself to a further expansion of the National Citizen Service in documents published last week - setting a target of 360,000 places in 2021.
The National Citizen Service is a volunteering programme for 16 and 17-year-olds, primarily focused on six-week placements over the summer. The government has now committed to make places available to everyone of that age who wants to take part.
In November last year George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced plans to grow the NCS to 300,000 places a year.
The decision to expand the service further was announced in the Cabinet Office’s single departmental plan, published on Friday.
The plan does not give cost details, but NCS places have previously been estimated to cost £1,300 each, suggesting the annual budget will rise to £470m.
Focus on young people and social finance
The same plan also indicates that the Office for Civil Society will continue to focus on young people’s services and social investment. The plan says the priorities to “build a stronger civil society” are to:
- Support young people to be involved in their communities and promote social action
- Support social investment, innovation, and an independent and capable voluntary sector
The OCS promises that it will:
- Guarantee every child a place on National Citizen Service, so they can learn new skills and meet young people from different walks of life
- Look to scale up social impact bonds and payment-by-results, focusing on youth unemployment, mental health and homelessness
- Support the Prince of Wales’s ‘Step up to Serve’ initiative, encouraging young people to serve in their community
- Help everyone volunteer and support action to help the vulnerable
- Support an increase in public service mutuals – organisations that are owned by their staff and deliver public services – by guaranteeing a ‘right to mutualise’ within the public sector
- Examine ways to build on innovative ways to deliver high quality public services such as the Work Programme
Last year the government missed its own minimum targets for NCS despite spending £130m.