Rob Wilson says government wants to 'amend' National Citizen Service targets

During a committee debate on the National Citizen Service Bill, the charities minister says the government should not be focused only on participation targets

Rob Wilson
Rob Wilson

The government is looking to "amend" participation targets for the National Citizen Service, according to Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society.

Speaking yesterday during a committee debate on the National Citizen Service Bill, which will give the body that runs the scheme a royal charter and put extra measures in place to improve its accountability, Wilson said he had been considering the targets for the past year.

The OCS last year set a target of dramatically increasing participation in the scheme by up to 360,000 young people in 2020/21 but the National Audit Office warned in a report this month that at the current growth rates this would be missed by 40 per cent. In 2014/15 only 58,000 of the 80,000 place offered were filled.

Rebecca Pow, the Conservative MP for Taunton Deane, asked Wilson if he could give assurances that setting up the royal charter would enable the scheme to hit the 360,000 target and lower the cost.

"One issue raised by the NAO report was that of targets," said Wilson. "I have been looking at those over the past year to ensure that we are not, as the NAO said, focused only on targets. We will make an announcement about them in due course, because we have been working to amend them for some time."

He said the bill would help the government to hit the targets and ensure the NCS provided the "quality and quantity of places the government and taxpayers want with the money they provide".

But he did not say how the targets might be amended.

Wilson said the government would in 2018 work on the contracting process with the NCS Trust, which runs the scheme, to ensure "the best possible value for the programme".

MPs on the committee also agreed to a clause that would allow people up to the age of 24 to take part in the scheme, which is aimed at 16 and 17-year-olds.

He said the scheme would not proactively seek to recruit people above the age of 17.

The bill completed its committee stage and will return to the commons for its report stage and final reading at a date that is yet to be fixed.

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