Examination of Witness (Question Numbers
30 March 2011
Q344 Chair: Good morning, Mr Oginsky.
After our packed panels, you are sitting alone. Welcome. You have
been advising David Cameron on youth policy for more than four
years and yet here we are in late March 2011 and the Government
still have not articulated a youth policy. Why not?
Paul Oginsky: Last week there
was a youth summit which Tim Loughton led on, and brought together
people from all the different Departments. It very much called
for young people and people from the voluntary and private sector
to say, "Look, we want to know what you think works in terms
of working with young people." We have designed a flagship
programme called national citizen service. A lot of time and effort
has gone into that over the past four years. I stress that it
is the flagship programme; it is not the whole fleet. We need
organisations doing the great work that they do before national
citizen service because that is aimed at 16 year-olds.
Q345 Chair: There was a summit
last week and we are into 2011. Why have the Government not come
forward with a youth policy before now?
Paul Oginsky: In part, they want
to hear what this inquiry says. But they also want to take their
time and get it right. They will be making a long-term policy
announcement soon. They do not want to rush because they have
not set a time scale.
Chair: You certainly can't be accused
Paul Oginsky: Thank you. It will
probably be around summertime when they will announce a more thorough
and cross-departmental youth policy.
Q346 Neil Carmichael: Hello. What
is the remit of your role in terms of advising Government? Is
it just focused on national citizen service?
Paul Oginsky: My title is the
Government adviser on National Citizen Service. However, that
is a flagship policy, so other youth services are meant to be
able to link to that to give a message to the rest of the youth
sector as to what the Government see as important. Therefore,
for four or five years, I have been going around asking people
what they think is important and how they think National Citizen
Service should be shaped. That includes young people themselves.
Q347 Neil Carmichael: Could you
describe to us what you think the big society is in the context
of youth services?
Paul Oginsky: This is a key question.
First, I don't think the big society is a new thing. When you
go around and talk about the big society, some people get quite
annoyed because they've been doing it for years. Everyone who
I meet in Government accepts that. It is not new; it is just a
way of signalling what the Government think is important. It is
about people taking responsibility for their communities and for
their lives. That has been happening for years. The Government
want to clear away things such as red tape, and they want to encourage
people to get involved in their community, take responsibility
and get involved in civic action.
In terms of youth policy, we should think of
a spectrum. At one end, young people are doing that and are engaging
in society. They are able to do that, build relationships, make
decisions and feel responsible, perhaps through working with adults
on a level. That's big society's dream. At the other end, there
are young who are unable to do that and are not engaged with societyperhaps
they are being antisocial or they are just apathetic. We are trying
to move young people towards the other end of the spectrum
Q348 Neil Carmichael: Where does
National Citizen Service fit in with that concept?
Paul Oginsky: National Citizen
Service is a personal and social development programme.
Q349 Chair: If I could cut you
off there, we will come to further explanation of that in a moment.
Neil, can you ask something else?
Q350 Neil Carmichael: I'm sorry.
I will ask a question that I presume somebody isn't going to ask.
What is your definition of personal and social development?
Paul Oginsky: I've watched all
your inquiries on the internet. It is interesting that still in
2011I've been in this game for over 25 yearspeople
find it hard to answer a question such as, "What is youth
work?" That spectrum view is useful. Young people who are
able to make decisions in relationships and build them in a healthy
way, are kind of on that path. But for young people who are not
able to do that, we need to be more interventional. I define personal
and social development as a process by which we learn from our
experiences and become more effective in our decisions and our
relationships. So decisions is personal, and social is relationships.
Q351 Neil Carmichael: Right. Where
does the National Citizen Service fit in that context?
Paul Oginsky: It's a personal
and social development programme. The ambition is that at 16 every
single young person will have the opportunity to take part in
a personal and social development programme. In that way it is
universal, but it also has to be targeted because some young people
will not volunteer for it because it is a voluntary programme.
That is why we need to be interventionist with some young people
and encourage them to volunteer.
Q352 Neil Carmichael:
How does that differ in terms of existing youth sector activities?
Paul Oginsky: I don't think it
differs. What it offers is a framework which all youth organisations
can play a part in, either preparing young people for the National
Citizen Service or picking them up afterwards, or contributing
to the National Citizen Service itself. It is only a framework
that we got from the sector. We went around and asked everyone,
"What do you think works?" They said social mix, getting
young people involved in their community, residential work, supporting
the transition to adulthood. That is what we've built, and now
they can feed into it.
Interestingly, the two criticisms I've heard
when I go around are, "Why are you always trying to do something
new?", and, "This is nothing new." It's not new.
What is new is the framework, which allows everyone to contribute.
Q353 Craig Whittaker: Good morning,
Paul. You mentioned several times that this is the flagship. In
fact, I think you said that it is the flagship, not the whole
fleet. As of 16 February this year, only 1,000 young people from
a potential 600,000 had signed up to the service. What conclusions
do you draw from that?
Paul Oginsky: Actually, this year,
2011, is the first pilot year of the National Citizen Service,
and there are places for 11,000 young people initially. We anticipate
that it will be full and perhaps even over-subscribed. We have
12 youth organisations leading on the pilots, and they are just
now opening their doors. I think that only now as we speak are
young people becoming more and more aware of NCS. The important
thing is to get the social mix right. It is not good enough just
to fill the places. We have to get the social mix, and that means
hard work, often by targeting people and encouraging those who
would not put their name down to put their name down.
Q354 Craig Whittaker: You think
that many of the 8,000 who showed an interest will sign up, along
with the 1,000 who have already done so. Is that what you're saying?
Paul Oginsky: The 1,000 you are
referring to were involved in some forerunner stuff before the
election, which some charities did based on the model. That was
really useful to us, and we learned from it and fed it back to
young people to see what they thought. This is the first year
that we are doing some NCS work properly.
Q355 Craig Whittaker: We saw Doug
Nicholls earlier; he argued that as £300 million starts to
disappear from the 365 days a year youth service, suddenly £370
million emerges to fund these summer projects. Will this scheme
replace other youth services?
Paul Oginsky: So far, the Government
have allocated only £15 million. This is a pilot year, and
it needs to work in order for us to be able to secure any other
money. The money has been secured by the Cabinet Office from the
Treasury, so it is additional money. It is not money that has
been saved from other services. In that way, I really want to
stress that this is money going to the youth sector, to do the
kind of work that they told us they want to do. Hopefully, if
it worksit will be thoroughly evaluatedwe can convince
the Government to put a lot more money into it. It is money going
to a common reference point that everyone can share, but hopefully
it will not take away from the current funding.
Having listened to the other speakers, I would
like to take a moment to say that cuts do not always mean savings.
I would like to stress that to councils as well. Often, some of
the cuts that they make to youth services will cost them money
in the long run.
Q356 Chair: Could you clarify
exactly what money the Government have promised the National Citizen
Service? We have figures of hundreds of millions.
Paul Oginsky: The only money that
they have announced so far is £15 million, which is for 2011.
The 2012 allocation has not been announced, although they are
intending to have 2012 as a second pilot year. They have not announced
it yet because they are testing the model, and saying to people,
"Okay, what would this cost? If you are going to run this
programme as designed, how much would it cost?" What we are
finding is that people come back with quite varied amounts of
what it will cost.
Q357 Chair: I thought they had
announced in the spending review £37 million for 2012.
Paul Oginsky: I thought that the
Minister was going to announce that, and I didn't want to steal
Q358 Craig Whittaker: Is young
people's development best served by a short one-off programme,
or do you think it is better with an ongoing offer of support?
Do you really think that young people at 16 are going to give
up their summer holidays, just after finishing their exams?
Paul Oginsky: There are two questions.
We need to inspire young people to be part of their community
ongoing, so I do not see NCS as a programme and then it stops.
It's about helping them to think about society, and helping them
to think about their contribution to society ad infinitum. It
also means that they can come back on the programme and help our
staff and so on in future years.
Eventually, as NCS grows, it will become part
of the culture of Britainsomething that everyone will have
done. In 10 or 15 years' time people will be turning round to
each other and saying, "Where did you do your national citizen
service?" One of the great things about it is that it's not
a targeted programme, so it does not stigmatise young people;
it is for all young people, and therefore it's for all us adults
to encourage young people to come on it. This year, 2011, will
be the hardest year to recruit because we do not have 10,000 young
people who've done it and who can help us to recruit and get young
people on it. We know that young people are the best recruiters
for these things.
Do I think that young people will put their
names down for it? Absolutely. We said to young people, "Why
would you put your name down for it, because it's voluntary?"
The key thing that they said was, "If the staff are good,
we'll be there." That's our key challenge, getting the right
Q359 Pat Glass: Can I talk to
you about the financing of the National Citizen Service? We have
been given a number of figures; we've heard that it's £15
million this year and £37 million next year. We've been given
a figure of £370 million, and possibly, if 600,000 children
choose to be involved, it may be £740 million.
You said that you do not want to see this is
as a replacement for what is happening in youth services now,
but the fact is that this one-off will cost more than the annual
youth service budget collectively across the country. Is that
justified, at a time when we're seeing youth services disappearing?
This morning, we heard of 65% or 70% cuts in Gloucestershire's
youth services. NCS is six weeks for middle-class children whose
parents can afford to have holidays anyway. Is this really justified,
and a good use of money?
Paul Oginsky: These are important
points. I stress that if we take NCS at this point and say, "Let's
not do it. Let's put it in the bin," we will still face all
the cuts that we're getting at the moment. However, this is an
opportunity to show Government, because it will be so thoroughly
evaluated and it is very high profile, what personal social development
programmes can do. By helping the social mix, we'll get a more
cohesive society and help young people to be involved in society.
We heard from the previous panel about £1 getting a £10
return; this is our opportunity, I think, for the people who believe
in this kind of work to demonstrate what it can do. If we can
do that, it isn't going to be taking money; it's going to be bringing
in money. We can demonstrate the value of this work.
Q360 Pat Glass: Is this not already
happening in things like the Duke of Edinburgh's scheme? My grand-daughter
goes off to pack week with the Brownies. Is this not already happening
for many children? We are losing money from targeted services
that are desperate for support.
Paul Oginsky: I stress again that
we are not taking money to do this; we are bringing money to the
sector. It's not the Government who are going to be running this;
it will be people out therethe ones that you've mentioned.
We went out there and asked people what works, and we worked closely
with people like the Duke of Edinburgh's scheme. They work with
13 to 25-year-olds. This is a common reference at 16 for everybody.
They said that they're helping people to get on the programme,
and also picking people to do the Duke of Edinburgh's scheme after
If we can get it right, and I believe that this
is our golden opportunity, it is a chance to show the whole country
what this kind of work can achieve. It is a flagship in that way,
but it's not the whole fleet. The Duke of Edinburgh's scheme has
been a real support in development, and so has the Prince's Trust
and Fairbridge and the rest.
Q361 Pat Glass: If I can come
back to the financing, finally. We are in very difficult times.
Although you say that NCS is not taking money from other sectors,
the fact is that it is public money, and there is only one pot
of money. If it is going to the NCS, it is coming from other areas.
You said that it is not new money. Is it coming from the early
Paul Oginsky: No, it's going to
be new money. The money at the moment is being run by the Cabinet
Office from the Treasury and is invested in the sector. In future,
the funding will come to the Education Department, but only if
we can show the value of it. That is why it is getting so thoroughly
examined in order to prove it. I really think that this is an
One of the key thingsI know what you
say about the Duke of Edinburgh'sis that the programme
is not owned by anyone. I am not Conservative or of any political
leaning, but the Government have asked us what works in this area.
Many people you have spoken to over the weeks have contributed.
We have said, "This is what works", and the Government
said, "Okay. We'll invest in that." I don't feel that
it is owned by this Government, or any Government, or by the sector
or young people; it is a community opportunity. In this country
we don't do good transition to adulthood; we aren't very good
at getting young people involved in the community or social mixing.
If we can crack that and help young people to make better decisions
and build better relationships, that would benefit every department.
Which department wouldn't benefit from people making better decisions
and building better relationships? That will save us so much money
that it will well outweigh the costs of the scheme. In its report,
the Prince's Trust showed £10 billion as the cost of exclusion,
and this week, Catch22 showed a £3.8 billion cost from young
people not being involved in enterprise.
Q362 Pat Glass: If as a result
of this, we get a National Citizen Service, but youth services
across the country disappear, will that be justified?
Paul Oginsky: Youth services being
cut across the country is heartbreaking, but I think it is indicative
of the fact that people have not understood their value. I think
this, as a flagship, will help explain to them the value.
Pat Glass: I hope so.
Paul Oginsky: I hope so too.
Q363 Chair: Will there be any
cost to those participating?
Paul Oginsky: We have left that
open to the providers. Some of them thought that there must be
a cost so that young people show some commitment, and other providers
thought that any cost would be exclusive. It is a pilot. Let's
see how it goes. Some providers are making a nominal charge of
£25, others are saying nothing, and some maybe a little more.
Chair: How much is a little bit more?
Paul Oginsky: One hundred pounds.
I'd like to see how that goes. I have my own opinion on whether
we should be charging for this now. I think young people make
a commitment by signing up to a scheme that is meant to be challenging.
If any of us were to go away on a six-week course, where you mix
with people you wouldn't normally mix with and take challenges
you wouldn't normally take, that would be a commitment enough,
I understand that as part of the Government's
philosophy, they do not want to fund this ad infinitum, indefinitelycoming
back to your point. They have said, "Let's see everyone in
society contribute." It is the idea of the big society. A
lot of philanthropists are able to contribute to NCS. Organisations
such as the ones you have interviewed today have said that they
will offer support with staff through their CSR programme and
have offered their buildings. It is an opportunity for us all
to galvanise around our young people.
Q364 Tessa Munt: The moment you
stick a £25 price tag on it, or £100, you are up in
the realms of the middle classes. My personal opinion is that
that is completely exclusive. You were talking about cracking
the social mix. How are you going to crack it and stop the programme
being flooded by the middle classes?
Paul Oginsky: As I said, it's
a framework, and we're trying to build a relationship with the
people providing the service so that it's based on trust. I know
a lot of the organisations that are providing it this year, and
they have been doing this kind of work for years. They are not
out to run off with the Government's money.
Q365 Tessa Munt: There is no such
thing as the Government's money; it is taxpayers' money all the
time. I am exercised by the same thing as Pat, and probably other
people round the table. You strip out one part and whack it into
this pot, but I'm not sure how your framework will pull into this
process young people who don't have the opportunities that the
middle class has.
Paul Oginsky: You are right to
say that it is taxpayers' money, and these people aren't looking
to run off with it. But we do not want to say, "You've got
to have two people of this kind and three people of that kind."
We are saying that we want a social mix.
Q366 Tessa Munt: How will you
Paul Oginsky: The charities on
the ground that are delivering this are confident that they can
do it, and we'll find out this year. Craig was talking about the
forerunners to this. The forerunners were the Young Adult Trust
and the Challenge network. They found that the difficulty wasn't
getting young people from tough housing areas and people who were
disengaged. Actually, there was a disproportionate number of people
on last year's course who were young black women from housing
estates. We have to make sure it's everyone and that it's a proper
social mix. I think we'll all be surprised about who comes forward
and who says they will do it. But, for me, that will happen because
it has street cred. Some young people have to turn round to each
other and say, "That's brilliant. You want to get on it."
Then we won't be able to stop them.
Q367 Craig Whittaker: Four years
go, before I became an MP, I attended the launch of the service
up in Preston with David Cameron. Am I right in saying that the
initial plan was for the Governmentif the Conservatives
became the Government, and now they haveto pay a fee to
a charity of the child's choice once they had finished? Has that
now gone out of the window?
Paul Oginsky: I think it has moved
on. What we're looking to do now is set up alumni. Once young
people come out of the programme, they are alumni, so they can
stay connected with each otherperhaps through the internet,
Facebook and that kind of stuffand be presented with opportunities.
When we asked employers what they were looking for in young people,
a lot of them said that, first and foremost, they were looking
for young people with interpersonal skills. There is an opportunity
for young people and employers. There are also opportunities such
as the International Citizens Service, where young people can
go abroad. We might be able to develop things so that people can
go on and get a bursary towards something else. That might depend
Q368 Craig Whittaker: I think
the initial plan was that once a young person had finished the
service to the community, the Government would make a donation
to a charity on their behalf. That was my understanding of the
initial plan four years ago. Are you now saying that's changed?
That would have been a good way of bringing in people from all
Paul Oginsky: But I don't think
people from all different backgrounds would need that really.
It might be more targeted at young people who particularly needed
it once they were motivated and up and running. Something we've
got to avoid is what I refer to as the astronaut syndrome, where
young people go on this amazing course through the summer for
six weeks, but then they're just back in their home area. We have
to make sure that the alumni scheme really works. It will be the
alumni and the opportunities that are presented that help to get
young people on the programme.
Q369 Tessa Munt: We'll have to
stop using the word "alumni", because that's exclusive
in itself, and it's not going to be understood by most young people.
If you say alumni, they won't have a clue. To go back to an earlier
point, you've got 1,000 people signed up already, haven't you?
Paul Oginsky: This year?
Tessa Munt: Yes.
Paul Oginsky: Not yet. We're looking
to get 11,000 people on the programme this year.
Q370 Tessa Munt: How are you going
to measure their class?
Paul Oginsky: Measure their class?
Tessa Munt: Yes. You're telling me that
it's not going to be just the middle class. How will you know?
How will that happen?
Paul Oginsky: In the same way
as you could say we're going to measure their ethnicity or religion.
We've brought in an evaluation organisation, which will tell us
whether we are achieving what we say we have achieved. With the
help of philanthropy, we are paying to get that evaluation right.
It's going to be long term, over two years, to see how young people
are coping, whether they were the right social mix and whether
the scheme helped them with transition to adulthood. The Government
are serious about evaluating this before they put in any more
Q371 Tessa Munt: The other thing
you said was that if it has the right staff, it's really cool
and they'll just come flocking in. What skills will you be asking
for and looking for in those staff?
Paul Oginsky: I have spoken about
personal and social development. One of the key things that we
are looking for are people who can help young people with guided
reflection. It is not enough to run an activity, whatever that
activity is, and ask, "Did you enjoy it? Go back to your
dorms." It needs staff with the ability to do personal and
social development. It is a skill set.
Q372 Tessa Munt: How do we measure
Paul Oginsky: It is about inquiring
into what young people got out of it. Where did the fight break
out? How did they resolve the issues? How will they use the skills
in future? Picking up on earlier discussions, that is a particular
skill set and it is more interventional. You are making a key
point; that is what we need to develop as we go on with the National
Q373 Tessa Munt: It is a bit late
though, isn't it? This is happening now. I am asking what skills
you will look for in your staff base.
Paul Oginsky: In the tender document
we laid out what skills we were looking for.
Q374 Tessa Munt: What are they?
Paul Oginsky: Guided reflection,
the ability to communicate with young people and run experiential
activities and so on. There were more than 250 applications to
run this year. We ended up with 12 organisations. They have demonstrated
to us that they have the staff to do that. Next week, we are getting
them together to share best practice. This is a flagship programme,
and we are hoping to use it to bring more organisations in to
swap best practice again.
Q375 Tessa Munt: My last question
is on the away from home experience that these young people will
have. How will that be maintained once they come back to a world
that, in my area, has 70% of the youth service stripped out?
Paul Oginsky: Once they come back,
we ask them to explore what their community is. The first two
weeks are residential. The first is away from home, while the
second is within their home area. They are exploring what community
means to them. The word "community" rolls off the tongue,
but what does it actually mean to people, and do they feel like
they belong to a community? After that, they come up with a project
that they want to run themselves. We give them a small grant,
and they run a project that makes a social impact.
Q376 Tessa Munt: I want to stop
you there. I am sorry about this; I ask this in every single Committee.
How does that work in a rural setting?
Paul Oginsky: This is one of the
things that we are trying. We have got people working in the rural
setting, and it might be that we have to adapt the programme a
little for that. That is something we have to find out. When we
say "social mix", it is great to have people from different
ethnic backgrounds and different social classes, but it would
be fantastic if people from different parts of the country could
mix, such as those from rural and urban areas. We are not looking
at the finished model; we are looking at how we can get this to
work. Some of the providers are coming up with really innovative
ways of doing things, such as, during the first week, someone
running it in a rural setting sharing a residential centre with
people from Newcastle or Liverpool. When those attending go back,
they can stay in touch with each other, but they would be more
exploring what their community is and what community means to
Q377 Chair: What about the transport
costs for that?
Paul Oginsky: Transport is one
of the costs. At the moment it is being secured through the providers.
That can be a really good way of showing everyone galvanising
behind the programme, by organisations supporting the transport.
It does not have to be a cash donation. It can be gifts in kind
towards the programme.
Chair: Thank you. It is worth saying,
at the end of this session, that anyone watching on the internet,
as you have done, Paul, is able to contribute to an online forum
that we have set up in conjunction with thestudentroom.co.uk/youthservices.
I hope that anyone listening or reading this will go to that site
and post their views. Thank you all very much for giving evidence
to us this morning.