Strengthening Our Partner Network
PRESS RELEASE - 31.07.2019

National Citizen Service Trust (NCS) announced today it will not contract directly with The Challenge to deliver or manage its programme for 16 and 17-year-olds in London, the South East and the West Midlands from next year.

The Royal Charter body has been unable to reach an agreement with the charity over a contractual requirement to use a shared IT system that ensures value for money, improves customer experience and protects young people’s data.

Separately, NCS Trust had concerns this summer when around 4000 young people were let down by The Challenge because they weren’t allocated a place on their chosen programme.

“We need to ensure a consistent customer experience, secure value for money for the taxpayer and safeguard the data of the young people who take part. That’s why our contracts stipulate that all partners use a single shared IT platform,” said NCS Trust CEO Michael Lynas.

“Unfortunately, since The Challenge is unwilling to use this important system, which is successfully used by all other partners in the NCS network, we are unable to award contracts. As the commissioning body, entrusted with selecting the best organisations to safely deliver NCS while offering value for public money, this decision is the best way for us to continue to achieve these aims.

“We are looking forward to working with outstanding and experienced organisations, and their networks of smaller partners to deliver the NCS programme from 2020 onwards.

“The Challenge remains contracted to delivering summer and autumn NCS programmes in 2019 until their contract ends in December.

“NCS thanks The Challenge and its dedicated staff for the hard work they have put into the NCS programme over many years and I personally hope that many of them will continue to be part of our future network.”

A recommissioning process by NCS Trust to improve the programme and value for money is now nearing completion. The new structure will mean a more diverse network of local organisations and direct management by the NCS Trust of more regionally focused providers in London, the North East and the South West of England. These will be announced in detail soon.




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Notes to Editors

In technical terms The Challenge was awarded preferred bidder status by NCS Trust this has now been withdrawn.


About NCS

NCS is a government backed programme established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens.

NCS is open to 16 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland. The two to four week programme, which takes place in school holidays, includes outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.

To date:

  • Over 500,000 young people have taken part
  • More than 12.5 million hours of community action have been completed
  • For every £1 spent, NCS’ 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society

It costs participants just £50 or less to take part in NCS and bursaries are available on a case-by-case basis. Support is provided for young people with additional needs.


About NCS Trust

National Citizen Service Trust is a not-for-profit organisation incorporated by Royal Charter and established to shape, support, champion and lead a thriving National Citizen Service.

National Citizen Service Trust is registered in England and Wales with Royal Charter Body number RC000894. Our registered office is at The Pembroke Building, Kensington Village, Avonmore Road, London, W14 8DG.