SOCIETY: Service schemes `are good value'

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The Independent Online
A national citizens' service scheme would cost between pounds 30m and pounds 40m a year, but could bring in pounds 2.80 for every pounds 1 invested, according to an evaluation of three pilot schemes around the country.

The report, from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found no substance to fears that volunteers aged 18-25 were being exploited or that jobs were being taken away from paid workers.

Early recruitment problems contributed to annual cost per volunteer as high as pounds 1,567 in Cardiff - significantly higher than the target range of pounds 600 to pounds 900. On the assumption that the work the volunteers did could be valued at pounds 5 an hour, the return would only be 90p per pounds 1 invested, but this would improve to pounds 2.80 once the targeted costs were achieved.

The projects succeeded in finding more placements than they could fill, with about a third working in education, 26 per cent in health and community care and 18 per cent in community safety. More than nine out of 10 said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their placements. Glenda Cooper

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