Serco consortium takes six National Citizen Service contracts

The NCS Network is biggest winner among the 19 deals, with the Challenge Network also successful

The Challenge Network
The Challenge Network

A consortium that includes Serco, the private sector services firm, has won the largest number of regional contracts to deliver the government’s National Citizen Service in 2013 and 2014.

The NCS Network, which includes Serco and the youth charities Catch 22, the National Youth Agency, vinspired and UK Youth, won six of the 19 regional contracts available. 

The other successful bidders for the £200m worth of contracts were: the Football League Trust; the Cumbria-based social enterprise Inspira; Lincolnshire & Rutland Education Business Partnership; New College Nottingham; the Devon-based college Petroc; the employment and skills firm Reed in Partnership; and the Challenge Network.

NCS offers 16 and 17-year-olds from different backgrounds the chance to take part in a range of challenging activities away from and in their communities.

A statement from the Cabinet Office, published today, said the government received 57 bids for the 19 regional contracts.

In total, 73 charities and voluntary and community sector organisations will be involved with delivering NCS locally, it said, along with 18 local councils, 29 education providers and five education and business partnerships.

Under the terms of the contracts, providers will receive 75 per cent of the payments in advance of delivery of the programme, with the remaining 25 per cent of the payment based on performance. Of the £200m to be spent on the programme by the government, £190m will go on programme delivery and £10m will be spent on administrative costs.

The young people’s charity the Challenge Network ran the NCS in 51 of the 144 local authority areas where it operated this summer.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations is helping to develop guidelines for the two consortia led by private sector organisations – the NCS Network and Reed in Partnership.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "In order to deliver more places and maintain the standard of youth mentoring, we are awarding contracts to organisations that have demonstrated that they have the capacity and expertise to deliver high-quality NCS programmes that appeal to young people, benefit communities and offer value for money to the taxpayer."

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: "We are pleased to see our draft guidance being used as the basis for this tender. It’s vitally important that we get the relationship right between the voluntary sector and the private sector."

Last month, local infrastructure body Navca raised concerns about the involvement of Serco in the NCS Network, arguing that it could potentially cherry-pick the easiest cases and leave the more difficult ones to charities.

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