Cameron promises a National Citizen Service

Proposal would involve charities and other organisations running summer volunteering schemes for young people

Conservatives National Citizen Service logo
Conservatives National Citizen Service logo

The Conservatives have pledged to set up a scheme under which charities, social enterprises and businesses would run two-month summer volunteering programmes for 16-year-olds.

The programme, to be called the National Citizen Service, would not be compulsory, but in a speech this morning Tory leader David Cameron said he hoped it would become universal.

A policy document on the scheme estimates that it would cost £13m in 2011 and £37m in 2012. It says it would be funded by a £50m sum redirected from the Communities and Local Government department's contribution to the Prevent programme, set up to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremists. Money will also be provided by sponsorship and by local fundraising work, it says.

The report says funding the scheme would be a priority in the Conservatives' spending review in autumn 2010, if the party wins the election.

It says a National Citizen Service team would invite charities and businesses to submit proposals to run the scheme in 2011/12.

In his introduction to the policy document, Cameron writes: "My original idea was that it should be compulsory, like national service was.

"But youth leaders told me that would have been the kiss of death. Our aim instead should be that it is universal, but not compulsory, and of such high quality and great benefit that everyone will want to take part."

Shadow charities minister Nick Hurd told Third Sector: "The ambition is to offer it to all 16-year-olds who want to do it. That would mean hundreds of thousands of teenagers each year volunteering to do something positive for their communities."

Asked if it would affect the youth volunteering charity v, he said the scheme was not designed to replace any existing volunteering programme.

A spokesman for the Scout Association said: "We welcome moves to highlight youth engagement and civic participation. Scouting looks forward to sharing its experience with schemes that seek to further youth participation and engagement."


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