The government is experimenting with charging fees for young people to participate in its flagship National Citizen Service programme, Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, told the Commons yesterday.
During Cabinet Office questions, the Labour MP Bill Esterson said some young people had been charged £99 to participate in this year's pilot projects. He said the charge was a "severe disincentive" to get involved with the programme.
Hurd said that the government was "experimenting with a range of models to gauge people's willingness to pay" for the programme.
He said, however, that he was keen to make sure money was not a barrier to participation in the scheme and that it was open to those with low incomes.
Involving people from a range of social backgrounds was crucial to the success of the National Citizen Service scheme, he said.
A spokeswoman for the Office for Civil Society said the charges would be a small proportion of the total cost of the scheme, and no participants would be charged more than £99.
The initiative is intended to give 11,000 16 and 17-year-olds the chance to take up volunteering placements in the pilot versions of the scheme this summer.