National Citizen Service legislation given royal assent

The act will give a royal charter to the NCS Trust, which runs the scheme, and allow the government to provide it with grant-in-aid funding

Parliament: passed the bill
Parliament: passed the bill

The legislation that will give a royal charter to the body that runs the National Citizen Service has become law.

The government announced yesterday that the National Citizen Service Bill had been given royal assent.

The legislation will enable the staff and assets of the NCS Trust, a community interest company, to transfer to a royal charter body, allows the government to provide grant-in-aid funding to the trust and requires it to publish a business plan at the start of each year, plus annual accounts and an annual report.

The bill also makes the spending watchdog the National Audit Office the auditor of the NCS Trust and gives the government the power to promote the scheme by sending letters to young people as they turn 16 on behalf of the NCS Trust.

The scheme offers 16 and 17-year-old school-leavers the chance to take part in seven or eight-week projects that include community work, a physical challenge and a residential placement.

The news comes after a report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said last month that the high cost of the scheme could not be justified and its participation targets remained challenging despite being significantly reduced.

Writing for Third Sector earlier this month, Baroness Barker, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the voluntary sector in the House of Lords, called for the legislation to be halted because of the "vanity project’s" high cost.

The government has committed £1.5bn to the scheme between 2011/12 and 2019/20, £600m of which has already been spent, with £900m in the pipeline.

In a statement, Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "Many young people value NCS, so it is important the programme is delivered well with realistic measurable targets, proper transparency and accountability. This act will do that.

"The NCS runs in spring, summer and autumn and helps build skills for work and life, while inviting participants to take on new challenges and meet new friends."

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