The Office for Civil Society spent £62m, almost half its total budget, on the National Citizen Service in the year to March 2013, according to Cabinet Office accounts filed last month.
But despite the increased budget for the volunteering programme for 16 and 17 year olds, total OCS spending fell by £51m, or 27 per cent, from £190.5m to £139.5m.
The accounts show that the OCS spent £36.3m on resource grants to cover the costs of running the NCS programme in 2012 and £25.7m went on "other expenditure". A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said that other expenditure largely included upfront costs associated with running the NCS programme again in 2013.
The government plans to expand the number of places available on the NCS programme to 60,000 in 2013 from 30,000 in 2012.The fall in total expenditure was largely accounted for by the end of the Transition Fund and the Advice Services Fund. The accounts show that the OCS spent £88.9m in the year to March 2012 on the Transition Fund, set up to help charities which lost public sector funding, but nothing in the next year. It also spent £17.8m on the Advice Services Fund, which supported advice sector services, compared with under £400,000 this year.
The OCS is still expecting its budget to fall further to £56m in 2014/15, a drop of 60 per cent compared with its current figure, according to Spending Round 2013, the document summarising the government’s future departmental budgets.