Britain’s five richest families worth as much as poorest 20 per cent, says Oxfam

 

The UK’s five richest families have accumulated more wealth than the whole of the bottom 20 per cent of the population, with the gap between rich and poor continuing to grow, according to research published today.

The handful of billionaires – which includes property investor Charles Cadogan and Sports Direct boss Michael Ashley – have amassed a combined wealth of £28.2bn, more than the poorest 12.6 million people in Britain, according to Oxfam.

The charity said the findings were “deeply worrying”, and that such inequality was a “sign of economic failure”. The study is released ahead of Wednesday’s Budget.

Using figures from Forbes magazine’s latest list of billionaires, the study also warns that the UK’s wealthiest 0.1 per cent have seen their income grow nearly four times faster than the least well-off 90 per cent of the population.

Britain’s five wealthiest people boast a collective worth of £28.2bn, while the total accumulated by the bottom 20 per cent sat at £28.1bn.

Top of the pile is Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster and owner of more than 100 acres in London’s Mayfair and Belgravia. His family’s wealth is estimated at $13bn (£7bn).

He is followed by property tycoons David and Simon Reuben, whose combined worth sits at $11.5bn, while the London-based brothers Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja are in third place with a combined wealth of $10bn.

 

Also included is Charles Cadogan, whose family’s wealth of $6.9bn is based on extensive landholdings in London’s Chelsea including much of Sloane Street and Cadogan Hall; and the sports chain owner Michael Ashley, whose estate is valued at $5.5bn.

The report asserts that widening inequality is creating a “vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest behind”.

“This means the rules are constantly rewritten in favour of the rich, for example through policies such as lower taxes for high earners,” it says.

Oxfam’s findings come in the wake of a report in January which said that the 85 richest people on the planet had accumulated as much wealth as half of the world’s population.

Ben Phillips, Oxfam’s director of campaigns and policy, said: “Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, whilst millions of families are struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive on the breadline.”

A Labour spokesman said: “While people on low and middle incomes are worse off, David Cameron has given the top one per cent of earners a £3bn tax cut this year. He’s totally out of touch with ordinary people and always stands up for the privileged few.”

Separate figures published yesterday suggested that the consequences of rising inequality cost £39bn a year.

The study by the Equality Trust also found that the UK’s 100 wealthiest people have as much money as the poorest 18 million – 30 per cent of all households.

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