Growing inequality means that the top 62 of the world’s wealthiest people own as much as the poorest half of the planet’s population, around 3.6 billion people, says a new report from Oxfam.
The richest 1 per cent – around 73 million out of the world’s 7.3 billion people – now own as much as everyone else put together, said the report, published ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of political and business leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
Oxfam said urgent action was needed to tackle the “inequality crisis” and called on leaders to crack down on tax-dodging.
The practice denies governments in the developing world of billions of pounds a year which could be used on health, education and anti-poverty measures.
David Cameron promised at Davos three years ago to get tough on avoidance, warning corporate tax-dodgers to “wake up and smell the coffee”.
But Oxfam said that promised measures to increase transparency in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, such as the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands, have not yet been implemented.
While the UK has made good on Mr Cameron’s promise to introduce public registers of company owners, only one overseas territory, Montserrat, has followed suit.
The report found that the gap between rich and poor had widened “dramatically” over the past year.
As recently as 2010, the combined wealth of the 388 richest people was needed to equal that of the poorest half of the world, but that number plummeted to 80 last year and 62 now.
The total wealth of the poorest half of the world fell by $1 trillion US dollars (£694 billion) since 2010 even though the actual number of people in this group rose by 400 million, said the report, An Economy for the 1 per cent.
Meanwhile, the wealth of the super-rich 62 rose by more than half a trillion dollars over the same period to $1.76 trillion (£1.22 trillion).
This equates to an average of around £20 billion for each of the 62, which includes just nine women.