Only one in six eligible young people are taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS), leading to calls for the Government to devolve its funding to local youth services instead.
The Local Government Association (LGA) pointed out that the NCS received 95% of the Government’s youth services budget. Last year, the number of participants in NCS fell by 8%.
It is calling for this funding to be devolved to councils so they can provide year-round provision to all young people.
Cllr Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: ‘While the NCS programme has value and should continue, it is wrong that nearly all of the Government’s funding for youth services is being spent on a time-limited programme which attracts only a small number of participants and cannot replace year-round provision for young people of all ages.
The Government needs to devolve some of the funding from the programme to councils to enable them to provide the services that local young people want and need all the time, such as giving them safe places to meet, diverting them away from crime or supporting them to succeed in school, training or employment.’
The LGA is also calling for the Government to make its £500m Youth Investment Fund available as soon as possible to help boost youth services.