National Citizen Service body to be given a royal charter

The government introduces legislation, announced in the Queen's speech in May, that will put the scheme on a statutory footing

National Citizen Service
National Citizen Service

The body that runs the National Citizen Service will be given a royal charter and extra measures will be put in place to improve the scheme’s accountability, the government has announced.

The National Citizen Service bill, which was announced in the Queen’s speech in May, was introduced in the House of Lords yesterday.

The bill says a new NCS Trust will be established by royal charter and will take over the functions of the existing NCS Trust, which is a community interest company.

The trust will be responsible for running the scheme and for promoting it to young people, schools, local authorities and other public bodies in England.

The bill says the trust must publish an annual business plan setting out its strategic priorities and main activities for the year, which must be laid before parliament every year.

The trust must also produce an annual report for the secretary of state setting out a number of matters, including how its priorities have been met, how many people have taken places in the scheme and to what extent it has obtained value for money in carrying out its functions, the bill says.

The government said in the Autumn Statement last year that it would expand the NCS from 80,000 places a year to 300,000 by 2020, supported by £1.2bn of government funds.

The NCS, which gives 16 and 17-year-olds the opportunity to take part in residential activities and community work, has consistently failed to hit its participation targets since it was launched in 2011. Almost 58,000 of the 80,000 places offered in 2014/15 were filled.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, welcomed the announcements in the bill but called for the scheme to be carried out more closely with local charities.

"The NCS has clearly made a big difference for lots of young people, empowering them to take action in their communities and helping them develop skills and experience that will be valuable throughout their lives," he said.
‘We think further collaboration with the voluntary sector could help it to make an even bigger difference."

He said the NCVO would be coordinating a group of charities to inform the debate about NCS and the bill as it goes through parliament and it wanted to hear from any organisations who would like to be involved in this process.

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