Parents ‘won’t face sanctions’ if their children refuse National Service, Mel Stride tells LBC

28 May 2024, 09:46 | Updated: 28 May 2024, 09:49

Mel Stride says parents 'won't face sanctions' for those who fail to turn up for national service

By Jenny Medlicott

Parents won’t face sanctions if their children refuse National Service, a minister has told LBC.

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Rishi Sunak unveiled plans on Sunday that would see 18-year-olds given the choice of a full-time military placement for 12 months or a scheme to volunteer for one weekend a month for a year.

Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, asked what kind of sanctions parents would face if their children failed to participate in the scheme, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “As a parent, clearly none because this relates to an adult who is 18 years old and it is their responsibility to engage with the programme.

He continued to defend the policy, which has faced heavy scrutiny since it was unveiled: “But this is a great opportunity, National Service is something that is not unique across the world, in fact countries like Norway, Switzerland and Sweden for example have fantastic National Service."

“The Swedish for example, those that pass through that, 80% of them say at the end of it that they would actually actively recommend the programme to a friend.

“This is a chance for young people to learn skills, and build those connections and basic confidence that they can use to sustain them for the rest of their lives.”

Read more: Sunak accuses Labour of not offering 'single new idea' as Starmer brands National Service plan a 'teenage Dad's Army'

Read more: Tory minister defends Sunak's 'brave' National Service plans despite last week criticising idea

Lieutenant on national service: 'This has to be carefully thought through'

It comes after speculation that parents could be fined if their children attempted to avoid National Service when they turn 18.

Speaking to LBC’s Iain Dale on Monday, Tory minister Johnny Mercer also defended Mr Sunak’s policy as “brave”, as he said: “The vast majority of it is volunteering in fantastic organisations up and down the country. I personally think is an extremely good thing. I think it's a great plan, a great idea.

“I think the idea is very brave and very bold and actually is something that people want to see.

“It (would give) a pride and purpose and challenge to those who often feel most left behind.”

It is the Conservatives’ first major policy proposal since Mr Sunak announced the general election for 4 July on Wednesday.

The Conservatives estimate the programme would cost £2.5bn a year by 2029/30 funded with cash previously used for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and by cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion.

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