Cameron plans to continue National Citizen Service expansion in 2015

The Prime Minister set out his goals for National Citizen Service at an evidence session on the big society with the Liaison Committee

David Cameron
David Cameron

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has said he plans to expand the National Citizen Service in 2015.

Giving evidence on the subject "Big Society or Broken Society" to the Liaison Committee, made up of the heads of all the parliamentary select committees, Cameron said his first goal remained to increase the size of the programme to 90,000 places by 2014.

"We want to get to 90,000 by 2014, with a further increase in 2015," he said. "That would be a good ramping up."

Graham Stuart, Conservative chair of the education committee, said expanding the programme to 90,000 young people was likely to cost £100m. In response, Cameron did not comment on the figure but said he was confident the government could find the funding to grow the programme.

Stuart also told Cameron that the NCS was being funded at the expense of existing voluntary schemes that could provide the same results more cheaply. Cameron said the NCS was not comparable to existing schemes.

The Prime Minister also gave his support to social finance as an effective tool to address policy areas that were "failing badly" and singled out the social impact bond as a way to do this.

"Britain is leading the world in the idea of social impact bonds," he said. "We want to see many, many more take place. I think it’s an extremely exciting way of getting private sector capital into solving social problems."

And Cameron said that the big society programme was proving a success so far." Are we making it easier for people to come together at a local level and solve problems they have in their communities?" he asked. "If the answer is 'yes', then we are succeeding.

"We’re seeing across the country many local communities taking over the last pub in the village because it’s closing down, taking over a village shop, wanting to run the parks that their children play in and make sure they’re kept open. We’re seeing a lot of big society activity.

"Is it now easier to come together and do those things? The answer would have to be 'yes'."

The Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, chair of the public administration select committee, told Cameron that the government did not have the skills to carry out Cameron’s goals of devolving power and opening up public services.

"There’s no coherent plan for the implementation of all this major change," he said.

He said decentralisation and contracting out of services to charities and social enterprises involved "a lot of skills that the civil service does not traditionally have and are in rather short supply".

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