After two years of declining world aid, last Tuesday, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released new figures that demonstrated that aid had reached a record high in 2013 and increased by over 6.1%. In the face of what appears to be a gratifying headline, beneath the surface lies a far more depressing state of affairs.
Every night, when we sit down in front of the television, the inevitable adverts pop up. That generic charity appeal that makes the room go silent, where a small, semi-naked, helpless child crawls across our television screens and the only thing we can do is awkwardly squirm or hope that our satellite box has enough minutes to fast forward.
You may be surprised to learn that over the past decade, a third of the money pledged by aid donors for water and sanitation has failed to be delivered. That's US$27.6 billion out of the US$81.2 billion committed since 2002. This is a staggering amount of money. It could have helped hundreds of millions of people gain access to water and sanitation.
The world over, we are seeing ever more cases of extreme weather, from the recent floods in the UK to wild fires in Australia. With each incident comes the familiar assurances that - this time - the necessary action will be taken to make sure there is no repeat. The reality is we have no choice, as every country faces the fact that climate change - and its impact on the weather - is no longer a distant prediction, but a daily reality. And for the poorest people on the planet, the need to change is not just a matter of saving money, but saving lives.
Not only should we question what the Conservative vision of a hard-working society looks like in reality, we should also remember who is evangelising it and why. When it comes to work and family backgrounds the Coalition cabinet could not be more unrepresentative of the run-of-the-mill British family.