NCS Bill completes Commons stages

16 Mar 2017 News

Rob Wilson, minister for civil society

The National Citizen Service Bill has had its third reading in the House of Commons and been passed without a vote.

The report stage and third and final reading of the bill took place yesterday and ammendments made at the committee stage were accepted by MPs. 

The bill will become an Act of Parliament once the queen gives it Royal Assent. 

Criticism

The development came the day after a critical report published by an influential committee of MPs, in which its chair called on government to carry out a fundamental review before spending any money on the programme.

The Public Accounts Committee has been critical of the organisation’s lack of evidence of long-term impact, lack of transparency, high participation targets, the cost per place, and the lack of progress on recovering money paid out for places that were not filled.

Steve Reed, shadow minister for civil society, yesterday raised concerns about the NCS following the report, telling the government that it cannot “ignore underperformance”.

However, speaking in yesterday’s third reading he said that those “comments should not be misinterpreted as a lack of support for the organisation or for the consensual way in which the minister has dealt with this matter”.

He said of the £1.5bn that the organisation is due to receive at a time when “other youth services up and down the country have lost significant levels of funding”, that: “It is important, when so much money goes to any service, that the government can demonstrate beyond any shadow of a doubt that every penny of public money handed to the NCS is better spent there than every penny cut from thousands of other youth organisations that were also doing good work, many with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in the country.”

Minister reacts to PAC criticism

Rob Wilson, minister for civil society, said he agreed with recent recommendations of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee on strengthening the governance, transparency and efficiency of the NCS.

He said: “It is precisely because the NCS is so valuable, both to young people and the nation as a whole, that we must ensure that the taxpayer has complete confidence in the way it is managed, what the NCS Trust does and how it spends public money.”

 

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