You may have picked up today’s campaign announcement by David Cameron of a proposed National Citizen Service, a two month summer programme for 16-year olds, involving both residential and at-home components. If the Conservative Party were to form the next government, the programme would be delivered by independent charities, social enterprises and businesses.
The programme has been piloted already. Last summer David Cameron announced the launch of ‘The Challenge’, run by the Challenge Network. The Challenge Network is an independent charity. Its aim is to work with independent providers to develop and run larger-scale pilots, and roll out a national programme over time. Last year, The Challenge launched large scale pilots with young people from in Southwark and Hammersmith & Fulham. Over the course of these pilots, 158 young people were taken to an outbound centre in Wales and to the Lake District, as well as carrying out projects in their local communities.
The pilots continue this year – and will, for the first time, include an option for young people to take part in enterprise related activity. Young Enterprise has been asked by The Challenge to provide much of the input and is doing so in London and Birmingham, where this summer’s pilots are being based. I am providing strategic advice to The Challenge Network as one of five people from the youth and education sector that form their advisory board.
Based on the development work completed so far, and on the experience of running pilot programmes, the Conservatives estimate that the cost of national NCS pilots will be £13m in 2011 and £37m in 2012. These costs will in part be met by sponsorship. The Conservatives have promised that the bulk of the costs, however, will be borne by government. They suggest that over two years, funding of £50 million will be redirected from the Department of Communities and Local Government’s contribution to the multi-departmental ‘Prevent’ programme.
Young Enterprise’s engagement in the piloting process means that we will be well placed to bid for further funding, should the election return a Conservative Government.