National Citizen Service Trust defends spending on its image

The organisation has been criticised by the Local Government Association for seeking bids for a branding contract worth up to £10m

The charity that runs the National Citizen Service has today defended the amount of money it is spending on its image after receiving criticism from the Local Government Association.

The National Citizen Service Trust began tendering last week for a brand and creative agency partner.

The tender document said the four-year contract would be worth between £4m and £10m.

This prompted the LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, to publish a statement comparing the sum with the £8.9m pledged by the UK government to tackle knife crime and gang culture.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board and a Labour councillor in the London borough of Hackney, said: "It is not right that £10m of government money is to be spent on a brand refresh for the National Citizen Service.

"This sends the wrong message at a time when councils are being forced to cull vital youth services as a result of government funding cuts.

"While we recognise that the National Citizen Service can be a positive experience for those who take part, funding all-year-round youth services in local communities would be far more effective in reaching out to young people and helping them to thrive and prosper."

The LGA questioned the government's decision to spend £634m on the NCS – 95 per cent of its youth services budget – between 2014/15 and 2017/18 and to commit £1.2bn between 2016 and 2020.

It said some of this budget would be better invested in council-run youth services, which have seen funding more than halved in real terms since 2010.

A spokeswoman for the trust said £10m was the upper limit for the entire contract and that this sum would not be spent solely on a brand refresh, as Bramble claimed.

The spokeswoman added: "The figure will be about £1m each year for our ongoing marketing and creative services, including a brand refresh, to drive participation and inspire young people to take part in the NCS programme.

"500,000 young people have benefited from taking part in the NCS, we are ambitious to expand and it is necessary to market a national programme of this size.

"The NCS Trust wholeheartedly agrees that local youth services must see a strong surge in funding and believes that youth services should be statutory."

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