To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many young people have (a) commenced and (b) graduated from a National Citizenship Service (NCS) programme in (a) 2018-19 and (b) 2019-20; and what the Government's target for participation in the NCS was in each of those years.
As per National Citizen Service Trust’s 2018/19 Annual Report, 99,674 young people took part in the NCS programme in the 2018 calendar year (England only) with a completion rate of 93%. This compares to a target of 100,000 young people for the calendar year 2018.
In the 2019 calendar year, 92,041 young people took part in the NCS programme. This figure includes 552 young people who participated in the Spring 2019 cohort but were excluded from NCST’s 2019/20 Annual Report (which covers the April 2019 to March 2020 financial year). The target for 2019/20 was set for the financial, rather than calendar year and was for at least 100,000 young people to take part in NCS.
The completion rate for 2019 was 88% for the calendar year. Two key factors contributed to this lower participation rate in comparison to 2018:
Significant underperformance of one of the largest providers of NCS at the time - they exited the network at the end of 2019.
A tightening of criteria around what constitutes a "graduate" from the NCS programmes on the back of process reviews and systems changes that took effect from Spring 2019.