At the Conservative Party Conference in October 2018 Lord Lucas of Crudwell and Dingwall criticised the NSPCC and the charitable sector for exaggerating needs. Unbelievably the fringe event that Lord Lucas spoke at was organised by the Charities Aid Foundation to discuss the value of technology in the charity sector.
Lord Lucas said that artificial intelligence (AI) could help to make charities more transparent. He was particularly critical of the NSPCC and alleged that the charity regularly sent out press releases about research before publication. According to Lord Lucan this activity made it difficult to question the NSPCC about their reports and questioned the motives of the charities, and put forward the point that the NSPCC was using the press releases to generate income.
Lord Lucas probably raised a number of eyebrows for his criticisms. The NSPCC have naturally defended their reputation and responded by saying
“We’re baffled by Lord Lucas’s reported remarks and we have no idea what research he is referring to” said a spokesperson for the charity.
Lord Lucas went on to say that AI could have prevented the problems of Kids Company that collapsed in 2015. He claimed that AI would help to identify “zombie charities”, his label for charities that have stopped “achieving anything”. He is advocating more information is made available in the public domain as a way of improving performance.
It does seem a little bizarre that a speaker invited to talk about the charitable sector, invited by an umbrella organisation representing the charitable sector chose that platform to question the integrity of the sector that provides valuable services and, some would argue, pick up the pieces that the Government discards or tried to deal with the social and economic messes caused by Government policies.