8. What recent progress he has made on the national citizen service pilots. (69988)
We are absolutely delighted with the progress of the national citizen service. About 8,500 young people enjoyed an extremely positive experience this summer. The feedback has been fantastically positive and we will publish an evaluation report shortly on this year’s pilots.
I share my hon. Friend’s high regard for the YMCA and lots of other youth organisations across the country. As I said, we are ambitious to expand the national citizen service and are looking to commission up to 30,000 places next year. We are actively reviewing a list of applications and bids from a great diversity of suppliers. We will announce the results of that shortly.
I know that the Minister is still working out the fine details of the scheme, but may I urge him not to reinvent the wheel, but to make the best use of the Prince’s Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, of which I am a gold member? As well as not reinventing the wheel, I urge him not to break the spokes in the wheel by shattering youth service provision throughout the country as very good schemes go to the wall under this Administration.
I should make it clear that we are deliberately offering 16-year-olds in this country something new and distinctive. If the hon. Gentleman listens to the kids on the programme this year, he will hear that they see it as being very different from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award and the Prince’s Trust. It is set up to be different, and that is why we are piloting it. As I said, we are extremely enthusiastic about the feedback.