Rising pension values of affluent worsens inequalities

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The Independent Online

The UK's wealth gap is widening as a growing pensions apartheid leaves the poorest with retirement pots worth just a fraction of the rich, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday.

The nation's total household wealth reached £10.3trn in the two years to June 2010, 12.9 per cent ahead of the £9.1trn seen in the previous two-year period.

But the top 10 per cent of households saw their own wealth jump from £4trn to £4.5trn. The poorest 10 per cent had total wealth of just £8bn, according to the ONS.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, hit out at the signs of growing inequality.

He said: "The crash should have brought an end to unjustified rewards at the top. Instead, people on low and middle incomes are shouldering the burden of the recession they didn't cause through low wage increases, rising indirect taxes, and a higher risk of debt.

"Meanwhile the wealth of the very rich is growing at an ever-increasing rate, even as the economy sinks into double-dip recession."

The soaring wealth of the rich was mainly put down to increasing pension values as the country's most affluent clocked up another two years of pension accruals and entitlements.

Overall pension wealth increased from £3.6trn to £4.8trn, but the top 10 per cent had pensions worth £2.4trn, compared with just £8bn for the bottom of the pile.

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