Lord Wei speaks on National Citizen Service BillOctober 25, 2016
Lord Wei was delighted to see this Bill presented and with the reception it had received so far. He was involved in establishing the Challenge Network charity in 2009 to create one of the original pilots of the National Citizen Service programme. Prior to this, he was involved with colleagues from Shaftesbury Partnership in designing a working prototype to accompany, refine, and road-test the original policy idea which had been proposed by David Cameron (and before him many others from across the political spectrum over the years).
He pointed out that in the intervening period, a huge amount of work has been carried out both in government, at the grassroots level and by the NCS Trust and providers. NCS has gained the support of all parties, businesses, charities, faith groups and media and has had tremendous impact in social outcomes at scale.
He welcomed the Bill as it puts NCS on a longer term basis and then made a number of remarks relating to the Bill based on his experience.
Firstly, he thought it had been a great example of politicians and social innovators and philanthropists working together, taking risks. However he was concerned that although it was now appropriate for NCS to be brought onto a long-term accountable, statutory footing, this should not be allowed to create a huge bureaucracy. It needed to allow smaller and new providers to come in and innovate and experiment and tailor to different audiences and niches.
Secondly, he felt that effort should be put into working with the Scottish government and the Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies to bring this policy to all young people across the United Kingdom.
Thirdly, he would like the Bill to help support partnership between NCS and large and small youth charities and groups to bolster their efforts to bring improvement to their communities and young people, rather than compete.
Lastly, he pointed out that funding for any young person who wants to be involved in the NCS programme to be granted a place, was only allocated until 2019/20. He felt the programme will result in longer term benefits in society, which will have a potential impact on government spending in the form of greater social cohesion, greater community participation, lower crime, and better educational and vocational outcomes. The spending beyond 2020 should be secured to ensure those benefits are realised.
He concluded by again welcoming the Bill and seeing it as a milestone in a journey of continual social reform.
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