Richest 1% of people own 24% of UK wealth, says new study

Britain now home to 2.2 million millionaires while many more live in poverty

Benjamin Kentish@BenKentish
Tuesday 22 November 2016 17:08
The UK is home to more ultra-high net worth individuals than anywhere except the US and China
The UK is home to more ultra-high net worth individuals than anywhere except the US and China

The richest 1 per cent of people in the UK own almost a quarter of the country’s wealth, a new report has revealed.

The study by Credit Suisse also found £1.2 trillion was wiped off UK household wealth following Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

The huge levels of inequality in the UK were revealed in a detailed assessment that also showed the richest five per cent of people in the country own 44 per cent of all wealth.

The yearly global wealth report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute highlighted a growing divide between the rich and poor across the world, with the richest one per cent of people now owning more wealth than everyone else on the planet combined.

The number of millionaires and billionaires is increasing faster than any other group of people.

Oxfam said the high levels of inequality in Britain were "holding back the fight against poverty".

Sally Copley, the charity's Head of UK Policy Programmes and Campaigns, said: "The wealthiest one percent of the population - who own nearly a quarter of all the country's wealth - continue to do well whilst so many people in Britain are just about managing to stay above the poverty line.

"Tomorrow's Autumn Statement presents a real opportunity for the government to show how they are going to make the economy work for everyone and not just those at the very top.

"Globally, the richest one percent own more wealth than the rest of the world put together. This huge gap between rich and poor is undermining economies, destabilising societies and holding back the fight against poverty."

The Credit Suisse report also revealed the true cost of Brexit to British families, with UK household wealth having dropped by £1.2 trillion in the last year – an average of £44,000 per household.

Michael O’Sullivan, Chief Investment Officer of International Wealth Management at Credit Suisse, said: “The impact of the Brexit vote is widely thought of in terms of GDP but the impact on household wealth bears watching.

"Since the Brexit vote, UK household wealth has fallen by USD 1.5 trillion. Wealth per adult has already dropped by USD 33,000 to USD 289,000 since the end of June. In fact, in US dollar terms, 406,000 people in the UK are no longer millionaires.”

The UK’s fall in wealth was against international trends that saw global wealth increase by 1.4 per cent in the last year.

The rise in recent years means the number of millionaires in the world has more than doubled to over 13.4 million since 2000.

There are now 2.2 million people in the UK worth more than a million US dollars – equating to one in every 15 of the world’s millionaires. That figure is forecast to rise to 3.1 million by 2021 – a 40 per cent increase in just five years.

The UK also has the world’s third highest number of ultra-high net worth individuals (those with wealth of $50 million or more) – behind only the USA and China.

There are 9,000 UHNWIs in the UK compared to 56,000 in the USA and 9,000 in China.

Credit Suisse said: “This century, no other segments of the wealth pyramid have developed as significantly as the millionaire and UHNWI segments. The number of millionaires is projected to reach 45.1 million by 2021, while the number of UHNWIs could reach 208,000, up from 141,000.”

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