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National Citizen Service

Volume 516: debated on Wednesday 20 October 2010

In July, the Prime Minister announced the start of the bidding process for providers of national citizen service pilots. We have been really pleased with the response, and in the next few weeks we expect to announce the successful bidders. We expect to provide places for about 10,000 young people, with a good geographical spread.

The national citizen service is a great example of how young people can make a difference in their local communities. What can I do to persuade people in Brentford and Isleworth to get more involved in the project?

I thank my hon. Friend for her interest. As I said, the successful bidders will be announced shortly. They will be responsible for recruiting local young people and communicating the opportunities in their area. If a pilot is run in her area, I urge her to support its provider, as I would urge all MPs to do. The experience of young people in the pilots that have already taken place just down the road from her in Hammersmith has been extremely positive.

In my constituency, some of the richest wards exist side by side with some of the poorest wards in the country. Can the Minister reassure me that children from more disadvantaged backgrounds will also be encouraged to get involved in the national citizen service?

I can certainly give my hon. Friend that assurance, and those children will be more than encouraged. Involving people from all kinds of backgrounds is a central aim of the programme and a key part of its value. As part of the commissioning process, organisations bidding to deliver a pilot next summer have been asked to set out their specific plans to support the broadest range of young people to participate. [Interruption.]

Order. There are still far too many private conversations taking place in the Chamber. I want to hear, and I hope the House wants to hear, Steve Rotheram.

As a former employee of a quango, I am following the Minister’s much-vaunted “bonfire of the quangos”, as he called it. Now that the comprehensive spending review is upon us, can he tell the House what the total savings will be?

Order. Unfortunately, that question suffers from the disadvantage that it bears absolutely no relation to the question on the Order Paper. We must have another go, so I call Stella Creasy.

The tender document for the national citizen service pilot sets out the Government’s refusal to meet the total costs of the programme. Just how much of the bill does the Minister expect the voluntary sector and young people themselves to meet?

The cost of the pilots will be revealed as a result of the spending review. We are committed to two years of pilots to test a range of approaches to delivering the service, which will help us to identify the most cost-effective way forward. We will have a clear idea of the likely costs of a wider roll-out of the national citizen service once we have evaluated the two-year pilot phase.