Cameron’s NCS Legacy Under Fire

David Cameron’s recent memoirs and media round has given him the opportunity to try and define his own legacy from the ashes of his forced departure in 2016; one of the most prominent examples he has been offering has been the National Citizenship Service, which he set up in 2011 as a taxpayer funded gap year provider for 15-17 year olds. Picture the IDF training programme but ziplining instead of national security…

However, it looks like the NCS itself may be on its last legs – mired in controversy, investigations, a swathe of examples of misspent public funds and providers pulling out. Cameron’s search for a successful legacy will have to re-open…

Cameron’s crony, Michael Lynas, had been leading the project since its inception – who insiders have said was never up to the job in the first place having no experience in leading such a project (taking up the reins after briefly working for Cameron in No. 10). Lynas officially announced his resignation in September without giving a reason. Seems suspicious, however Guido reckons he knows why…

Guido understands the NCS is currently subject to a handful of investigations, not least by DCMS – an investigation apparently being headed up David Knott at the direction of Nicky Morgan – looking into the trust’s leadership, in addition to that of the National Citizen Service Trust (which has previously been subject to NAO and PAC reports criticising financial control, governance and transparency). Did Lynas jump before he was pushed?…

Despite receiving around £180 million in public funds, Lynas has also previously refused to disclose his salary. However, his record on spending taxpayers money doesn’t give Guido reassurance, having previously moved the NCST offices from a £100,000-a-year shared space to a new swanky £1.1 million pad in Kensington; and spaffing around £10 million up the wall on a ‘brand refresh’ for the Trust.

Taking all this into account alongside the NCS’s largest provider pulling out a month ago, and it looks like Cameron’s project is on its last legs. Once the NCS goes the “Big Society” will be just a well-meaning idea that didn’t catch on…

UPDATE: A letter seen by Guido from the Chairman of The Challenge (recently the largest provider of the NCS programme until pulling out a month ago) to Nicky Morgan, in which he savages the behaviour of Lynas and others, that “gives the appearance of an organisation wilfully concealing its own failures by using The Challenge as a scapegoat”. 

Bill Ronald also accuses the NCST of “[exposing] young people to potentially life-threatening safety risks through a flawed medical assessment process”. Just last month, David Cameron – who remains the Chair of NCS Patrons – said Lynas could “be proud” of the work he’d done at the NCS…


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