Equality Trust Finds a 1000% Increase in Billionaire Wealth

Today, The Equality Trust releases Billionaire Britain 2022: Inequality from the top down. This briefing demonstrates how, over the last four decades, changes to the UK economy have consistently funnelled wealth upwards to the very wealthy, to the detriment of the rest of us – starkly demonstrated this Christmas as we face record inflation, deep real-terms pay cuts and an impending recession with scant support from government. High and entrenched levels of inequality lead to higher levels of social issues including violent crime, mental illness and lower levels of trust and happiness for all, meaning that everyone suffers from living in such a divided society.

Using inflation-adjusted wealth data from archive copies of the Sunday Times Rich List, this briefing presents a longitudinal analysis of the explosion of billionaire wealth in the UK since 1990, examines the economic drivers of our billionaire society, and outlines our recommendations to dismantle the structures that enable this obscene accrual of wealth. 

Billionaire Britain 2022 reveals that:

  • The wealth of the UK’s billionaires has skyrocketed by over 1000% between 1990 and 2022, ballooning by around £600bn. 
  • The number of billionaires exploded from 15 in 1990 to 177 this year.
  • Between 2020 and 2022 alone, billionaire wealth increased by almost £150bn.
  • Much of this increase came from central bank and government efforts to soften the impact of the international Covid-19 crisis. However, the infrastructure that allowed billionaires to profit in this way was decades in the making. 

“That we have allowed the very richest few to accrue such a staggering amount of the nation’s wealth since 1990 is a national disgrace. The UK’s record on wealth inequality is appalling, grossly unjust, and presents a real threat to our economy and to our society. 

Every year we are invited to celebrate the very richest individuals and families in the UK, whilst food bank usage continues to increase, 3.9m children are living in poverty and 6.7 million households struggle to heat their homes. That these are two sides of the same coin is very rarely mentioned. 

Yet we know that inequality is not inevitable. The right policies can have a positive impact. We call on the government to tax wealth in line with incomes, reform the financial sector, and end the UK’s role in tax avoidance. Two thirds of the British public agree that ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth and it is time the government took action.”

– Jo Wittams, co-Executive Director of The Equality Trust