The United Kingdom’s six richest residents have the same amount of wealth at their disposal as the nation’s poorest 13 million inhabitants, according to a report by the Equality Trust.
The organization, which is a UK-registered charity that campaigns against economic and social inequality, says the six billionaires at the top of the pile are worth 39.4 billion pounds ($51.5 billion) collectively, which is the same amount that 13.2 million British people－one-fifth of the population－can scrape together between them.
Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, said the wealth gap in the UK should be narrowed.
“This report should shock anyone who cares about the state of the UK today,” she said. “Such a huge gap between the very rich and the vast majority of the country is dangerous. Such extreme wealth in the hands of so few people demonstrates just how broken the economic system is.”
The trust used wealth reports produced by Forbes magazine and the investment bank Credit Suisse to determine the assets of the six richest UK residents. It said around 14 million people live in poverty in the UK, with 4 million of those well below the poverty line and some 1.5 million “destitute”.
The rich six comprise the brothers Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja, who control a conglomerate of businesses and a fortune of 12.8 billion pounds. Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman and chief executive of the chemicals and fracking company Ineos, has assets worth 9.2 billion pounds and moved out of the UK earlier this year to the tax haven of Monaco so will not be eligible for next year’s listing. Hedge fund manager Michael Platt is worth around 6.1 billion. And property developers David and Simon Reuben, another pair of brothers, each have wealth totaling 5.7 billion pounds.
Wyporska said: “The UK’s economy delivers billions for a few and poverty for millions. Destitution is the sad reality for millions this Christmas.”
She said tackling “such dangerous inequality” is the “morally right thing” to do and, as the UK approaches a general election on Dec 12, it should be “a priority of every political party in this election”.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Guardian newspaper that a Labour government would target super-rich people who exploit a “rigged system” to triumph at the expense of the wider population.
The Independent newspaper noted that the UK’s billionaires have collectively more than doubled their net worth during the past decade while the average wealth of ordinary Britons has also risen every year since 2008 and is now 41 percent higher than it was in 2007.
Credit Suisse says there are now 2.5 million dollar-millionaires in the UK, which is up from 750,000 in 2010. Credit Suisse estimates that the number will jump by another 30 percent during the coming five years.
The Equality Trust adds that the richest 1 percent of UK residents have the same total assets as the world’s poorest 80 percent.