Richest 1,000 Wealth Increase Could Pay for Christmas for Everyone

For many of us the festive season is a time for family, friends and far too much food. It can be a stressful occasion, but it’s also largely a happy one. But it’s also a time of great contrast, when the extent of the vast disparities in wealth and income becomes apparent. Stories of the super-rich’s gauche spending habits, and the plight of those facing almost Dickensian conditions are frequent at this time of the year, and provide an eye-watering reminder of just how unequal our country has become.

Recent figures from the ONS have shown that the richest 1% has more wealth than the poorest 57%. But it’s even more shocking when you look at the super-rich. The richest 1,000 people in the UK have more wealth the poorest 40%, and the richest 100 more than the poorest 30%. Last year the wealth of the richest 1,000 people increased by around £28bn.

Let’s imagine that this wealth was used more equitably. Perhaps unsurprisingly it turns out £28bn goes quite a long way. In fact, £21.5bn would cover the total Christmas spend of all households in the UK, that’s all food, drink, cards and presents paid for, with a few billion left over. In other words, a single year’s increase in the wealth of just 1,000 people could essentially ‘pay for Christmas for everyone’.

You don’t even have to look at the richest 1,000, the top 10 will suffice. They saw their wealth increase by £3.25bn last year. That’s enough to pay for the festive food and drink spend for over 20 million households. It could also pay for all the presents given by nearly 5.5 million households, or a greater necessity, December’s gas and electricity bill for every household in the UK.

However you look at it, we are a rich country doing a lousy job at sharing these riches in a fair and just way. The huge inequality in our country makes us less trusting of others and loosens the bonds between us. As the rungs on the ladder have widened, it’s become harder and harder for people to understand those who are not on the same rung as they are. Vast material differences create similarly vast social distances.

But I don’t want to end the year on a melancholy note. We know that most people, in fact over 80%, believe the gap between rich and poor is too great. And we know that there are many organisations and individuals out there doing great work to challenge inequality. If you want to read about our successes over the past year, you can do so here.

We know that reducing inequality requires us to push even harder next year, but with your support, we also know we can build towards a society that benefits the many and not the few. 

John Hood, Media and Communications Manager