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National Citizen Service

Volume 555: debated on Wednesday 19 December 2012

Our ambition is to make National Citizen Service a rite of passage available to every 16 or 17-year-old. In 2011, more than 8,400 young people took part in it. This year we made the programmes available to a much larger number of people. The programmes finished recently and we await final data on the numbers. In 2014, we will ensure that 90,000 places are on offer.

All those involved in the NCS programme in 2012 in my constituency of Gloucester will welcome the Minister’s news of expansion in 2013. Excellent local partner, Gloucestershire college, has suggested to me that if it was possible for the organisations that pledge support to provide more detail it could provide even more opportunities to young people in my constituency and across the county. Does my right hon. Friend agree that more could be done from the Cabinet Office to facilitate that?

I know that my hon. Friend has taken a very close interest in the NCS, which is fast-growing and immensely popular with those who take part. Satisfaction is expressed by more than 90% of its participants. I hear what my hon. Friend says and will discuss further with him how we can take that forward.

The NCS designated Catch22, the provider of this programme in the south-east, with more than 2,500 places for 16 to 17-year-olds in the summer of 2012, but only 30 places were allocated to the young people of East Sussex. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that more places will be available in 2013, particularly for the young people of Hastings and Rye?

I am very sympathetic to that indeed. Of course, the first two years were pilot years in which the programme was not available throughout England. We are now rolling it out on a much wider scale and the whole country will be covered by the NCS in 2013 and 2014. I am confident that there will be significantly more places available in East Sussex, and I shall look particularly at the position in Hastings and Rye.

12. The NCS is the Prime Minister’s flagship policy for volunteering and the big society. Is it not therefore a bit ironic that it is primarily being run by Serco, a private company? (134237)

The hon. Lady is quite simply wrong. Serco has had no involvement whatsoever. It will be involved in some of the regions in the forthcoming—[Interruption.] There seems to be a certain amount of interest in this. Serco is in a partnership with voluntary organisations and it is the lead organisation in a minority. Most of the regions are being led by voluntary and community sector organisations, two of them by consortia of further education colleges. I hope the hon. Lady will welcome that.