The National Citizen Service delivered benefits from as little as 70p for every pound spent to as much as £2.38 per pound in 2015, a new report has found.
An evaluation of the three NCS programmes run in 2015 – in the spring, summer and autumn – was published today by the research company Ipsos Mori.
The report says the spring version of the 2015 programme delivered benefits in terms of volunteering hours and leadership skills worth between 70p and £1.24 per every £1 spent.
The summer programme delivered between 78p and £1.59 per £1 of expenditure, the report says, while the autumn programme delivered between £1.18 and £2.38 benefits per £1 spent.
The report says that between two and 5.5 hours of additional volunteering was done by summer NCS graduates compared with a comparison group, and for the autumn programme this was between 0.7 and 4.6 additional hours.
There was no impact on volunteering rates among young people who completed the 2015 spring programme, the report says.
The value of additional voluntary work, assuming volunteers were paid at national minimum wage rates for the work undertaken, was £0.3m for the spring programme, £3.2m for the summer programme and £0.6m for the autumn programme, according to the evaluation.
The evaluation estimates the likely monetary benefits of the increased leadership skills that some participants gained from the NCS programmes, with between £4.7m and £8.5m for the spring programme, £56m and £101.4m for the summer standard programme, and £17.6m and £31.8m for the autumn programme.
But this estimate is based on one US study by the University of California in 2003 about the long-term effect of increased leadership skills, and discounted the effects leadership skills might have on further and higher education attendance.
The evaluation says that the scheme cost between £1,385 and £1,620 per person to run, with the more popular summer programme the most expensive.
The report is one of four evaluation reports published today, which show the scheme is popular with young people: nine in 10 young people to have gone through the scheme say they would recommend it to their friends.
Almost nine in 10 participants from the 2015 programme said they had learnt useful skills for the future, and seven in 10 said they felt more confident about getting jobs as a result.
Michael Lynas, chief executive of the NCS Trust, said: "The research reports published today show that the NCS supports young people to be more confident, connected and compassionate citizens and that this impact endures more than two years after the programme experience.
"These significant findings are a credit to today’s teenagers, who have spent their summers building their skills and helping others, and to the amazing network of hundreds of charities and community groups that bring the NCS to life."