Equality Trust Wealth Tracker – Richest 1000 Have More Wealth Than Poorest 40 Per Cent

The Equality Trust has today published its first annual Wealth Tracker. It aims to make sense of the huge increase in wealth of the richest in society by providing comparisons with recognisable household items and bills. The Wealth Tracker can be found here.

This year it finds that the richest 1000 people have more wealth than the poorest 40% of households, and that the richest 100 have over £100bn more wealth the the poorest 30% of households. The 100 richest saw their wealth increase by a staggering £40.1 billion last year, the equivalent of £109.95 million a day, or £1,272 a second.

The Equality Trust has found that this increase in wealth of £40.1 billion could:

  • Pay the energy bill[1] for all 26.4 million UK households[2] for over a year (13 months.) Cost = £40.1 billion OR
  • Provide 2.76 million Living Wage jobs, or 1.83 million jobs paid at an average salary. The former providing jobs for every unemployed person. Cost = £40.06 or 40.09 billion
  • Elevate all 1.386 million National Minimum Wage jobs to Living Wage jobs. Cost = £3.52 billion OR
  • Pay the grocery bill for all of the UK’s users of food banks for 14 years[3]. Cost = £37.76 billion OR
  • Pay a year’s rent for nearly half of all renting households, or 4.05 million people[4].  Cost = £40.04 billion OR
  • Provide eighteen times the value of annual loans provided by the payday lending industry.[5] Cost = £39.6 billion

Duncan Exley, Director of the Equality Trust, said:

“Wealth Inequality in the UK is vast. The fact that just 100 people could have more wealth than 30 per cent of the population is staggering. Can anything really justify just 100 people having the same wealth as almost 19 million people? Does anyone think this is a fair or efficient share of wealth?

“Inequality at this scale is hugely damaging for society. Its corrosive effect on our health, well-being and even on our economy is now being shown by organisations like the IMF and the OECD and is acknowledged by world figures from Barack Obama to the Pope.

“The UK’s inequality is even more worrying when looked at in the context of some of the most serious social issues facing the country. With food prices, energy bills and rents rising far faster than most people’s wages, many are struggling just to stay afloat. In fact almost a million people used food banks last year. The increase in wealth held by Britain’s 100 richest increased by £40.1 billion last year. If this increase in wealth was used differently, it could alleviate or end food and fuel poverty, provide thousands of Living Wage jobs or ease the housing crisis.

“Unsurprisingly, the UK’s huge economic inequality is now a key concern for the British public. In fact over 80% of people believe the gap between the rich and poor is now too large. Politicians of all parties need to recognise this growing unease. That is why we are calling on them to adopt a clear goal before the next election of reducing the gap between the richest and the rest.”

[1] Dual fuel bill: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/83279/smiupdate18-09-2013.pdf.

[2] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/family-demography/families-and-households/2013/stb-families.html.

[3] According to the Trussell Trust there are 913,138 users of food banks. Based on an average annual food shop of £2,954 the cost of paying an annual grocery bill (£56.80 x 52), for those using food banks is £2,697,409,652.

[4] The average annual rent is £824 x 12 = £9,888. According to Homelet http://homelet.co.uk/homelet-rental-index  There are 8.3 million households that rent http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/detailed-characteristics-on-housing-for-local-authorities-in-england-and-wales/short-story-on-detailed-characteristics.html.

[5] The payday loans industry provided £2.2bn in loans in the year 2012/13: (http://www.ippr.org/assets/media/publications/pdf/Jumping-the-shark_Apr2014.pdf  p7).