Britain’s five richest families are more wealthy than the poorest 20 per cent of the population, a leading charity has revealed.
A report by Oxfam showed that at STG28.2 billion ($A52.62 billion), the combined wealth of the top five billionaires and their families is more than the STG28.1 billion of the 12.6 million people who are society’s poorest, the Guardian said.
The most affluent family in Britain, the Grosvenors, headed by the Duke of Westminster, has a fortune of around STG7.9 billion, largely derived from owning 190 acres of real estate in London’s Belgravia, near Buckingham Palace, according to the Forbes rich list.
That is more than the poorest 10 per cent of the British population, which is valued at STG7.8 billion, according to Oxfam’s Tale of Two Britains report.
The revelation throws Britain’s economic divide into stark relief. In the week of the government’s budget, Oxfam has called on politicians to address the widening gap, urging them to clamp down on tax avoidance and to explore greater taxes on extreme wealth.
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, while 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.”
He added: “Increasing inequality is a sign of economic failure rather than success. It’s far from inevitable – a result of political choices that can be reversed. It’s time for our leaders to stand up and be counted on this issue.”
The top five richest families also include David and Simon Reuben, whose STG6.9 billion fortune comes from metals and property, and the Hinduja brothers, whose trucking and banking businesses have netted them STG6 billion.
The Cadogan family is worth around STG4 billion from owning property and land in Chelsea and Knightsbridge in London and Cadogan Estates, while the fifth richest person is Newcastle United FC owner and Sports Direct clothing chain boss Mike Ashley, whose fortune is valued at STG3.3 billion.
Oxfam urged the government to balance its books by raising revenues from those who can afford it, the Guardian said.
The government should do this “by clamping down on companies and individuals who avoid paying their fair share of tax and starting to explore greater taxation of extreme wealth”.
A report by Oxfam earlier this year found that the world’s 85 richest billionaires have a combined wealth equivalent to that of half the world’s population, or 3.5 billion people.