Britain’s wealthiest families 500 times richer than poorest
The widening gap between Britain’s rich and poor has been highlighted in a report that shows the 10 per cent of Britain’s wealthiest households are more than 500 times richer than those in the bottom 10 per cent.
Families in the top bracket had a total wealth of £4.5 trillion in 2008-10, whereas those at the other end of the scale only had £8 billion, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) study found.
The total wealth of Britain’s households reached £10.3 trn in 2008-10, up from £9.1 trn in 2006-08.
Mean average household wealth, which included pension arrangements, grew to £418,000 in 2008-10, from £373,000 in the previous two years. Families in the South-east of England were the best off, with an average wealth of £562,000, while those in the North-east of England were the worst off, with a total wealth of £322,000.
Scottish households fared worse than those elsewhere in the UK with the average north of the Border coming in at £353,700 in 2008-10.
That was an increase on the 2006-08 figure of £335,300 for Scotland, but it was still behind the £380,700 that was recorded for Wales and the £429,000 average household wealth for England.
The study highlighted “widening disparities” between households at the top and bottom ends of wealth distribution, a pattern which dismayed trades union leaders.
Although there was a still a huge difference between the rich and poor living in Scotland, the gulf was not as pronounced as that found across the UK as a whole. In Scotland, the wealthiest households were 273 times richer (compared with 500 times in the UK as a whole) than the poorest households. The ONS also found that there were more proportionately more Scots in the lowest 10 per cent and fewer in the highest 10 per cent.
It said much of the increase seen by some families has been due to a rise in pension wealth, but this was not distributed evenly, with a small number of people holding high-value private pensions.
Of those who had private pensions, the 10 per cent of households with the highest levels of pension wealth had almost seven times as much as households in the bottom 50 per cent combined.
Across Britain, 64 per cent of people were not paying into a private pension, while 42 per cent of adults had no private pension savings at all.
The Wealth in Great Britain study also looked at the value of people’s possessions, homes and finances.
It found that while private pension wealth has increased as a proportion of total wealth in recent years, property wealth has decreased as a share as the housing market has remained stagnant.
The contributions of financial and physical wealth have remained fairly stable, the report found.
The least wealthy half of households in Britain were found to have 10 per cent of the total wealth, while the better off half had 90 per cent of the total.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Widening inequality, which started 30 years ago, has continued in the recession with the top 10 per cent now more than 500 times wealthier than the bottom 10 per cent.
“The wealth of the very rich is growing at an ever-increasing rate, even as the economy sinks into double-dip recession.”
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