David Cameron’s pet youth project is set to blow up to £10million on a marketing campaign.
The former Prime Minister set-up the under-fire National Citizen Service in No10 and has championed it since quitting Downing Street.
It is looking for a “brand and creative agency partner” in a contract worth between £4million and £10million.
An online advert says: “We are looking for an agency who can help us deliver a razor sharp brand proposition, a brand identity that is fit for purpose in the digital age and a creative platform that can not only cut through the clutter but live and breathe through every single touchpoint in our customer journey to make NCS the best known and loved youth movement brand in the UK.
“NCS requires a brand and creative agency partner to initially design and deliver our brand identity project, and continue on as our lead creative partner on a campaign basis for the duration of the contract term.
“The contract will be for a duration of two years with the option for NCS Trust for extend for two 12-month periods.”
It adds: “The potential total value of this contract is 4 000 000 GBP – 10 000 000 GBP.”
Town hall chiefs want the cash redirected so they can spend it on council youth services.
The Local Government Association’s children and young people’s board chairwoman, Anntoinette Bramble, said: “This sends the wrong message at a time when councils are being forced to cull vital youth services as a result of Government funding cuts.
“We have long-called for some of the funding for the NCS to be devolved to councils to fund youth services.”
Mr Cameron chairs the NCS board of patrons and has boasted how it was “one of my proudest achievements”.
He hoped it would become “a rite of passage” for 16 and 17-year-olds.
But it in March 2017, the Public Accounts Committee spending watchdog revealed the NCS was costing £1,863 per placement a year and “may no longer be justifiable”.
Local Government Association research revealed in August that nearly all Government spending on youth services is currently invested in the NCS.
Ministers pumped £634million on the scheme – 95% of the Government’s youth services budget – between 2014/15 and 2017/18.
But just 12% of youngsters who could take part did so in 2016.
Yet Whitehall committed £1.2billion of grant funding for the NCS between 2016 and 2020.
Meanwhile, councils slashed spending on local youth services from £650million in 2010/11 to just £390million in 2016/17.
More than 600 youth centres closed and nearly 139,000 youth service places vanished in the UK between 2012 and 2016.
Labour ’s Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs Cat Smith said: “Now is the time for proper investment in youth services, not splashing the cash on branding for pet projects.
“A new logo and flashy adverts won’t keep young people safe and support them to reach their potential.”
An NCS spokeswoman stressed the potential £10million cost was “from a procurement document giving that figure as an upper limit”.
She added: “The figure will be around £1million each year for our ongoing marketing and creative services, including a brand refresh, to drive participation and inspire young people to take part in the NCS programme.
“What’s important is that 500,000 young people have benefited from taking part in NCS, we are ambitious to expand and it is necessary to market a national programme of this size.”
She insisted “no government funding will be spent on the brand refresh element of this contract”.