Five richest families in the UK are wealthier than the poorest 20%

Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva, “A Tale of Two Britains: Inequality in the UK,” 17 March 2014, Oxfam GB

Today, the five richest families in the UK are wealthier than the bottom 20 per cent of the entire population. That’s just five households with more money than 12.6 million people – almost the same as the number of people living below the poverty line in the UK.

  • The most affluent family in the UK (Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor and family), have more wealth than the poorest 10 percent of the population, 6.3 million people (£7.9 and £7 billion respectively).
  • The richest 5 families in Britain are wealthier than the bottom 20 percent of the population in the UK (with a wealth of £28.2 billion and £28.1 billion respectively).
  • Incomes for the bottom 90 percent increased by 27 percent between 1993 and 2011. Incomes for the richest 0.1 percent increased by 101 percent over the same time period. In other words, the incomes of the top 0.1 percent have grown almost 4 times faster than for the bottom 90 percent of the population.
  • Once you factor in increases in the cost of living over the last ten years, then the real squeeze for the majority of Britons becomes apparent as does the divide between those at the top and the rest. Since 2003 the majority of the British public (95 percent) have seen a 12 percent real terms drop in their disposable income (after housing costs), whilst the richest 5 percent of the population have seen their disposable income increase.

… Tax evasion, by companies and individuals, costs the UK economy billions of pounds every year. The ‘tax gap’ – the total amount of missing tax money the Treasury is owed – is estimated to be around £35 billion a year.

Of that tax gap, Oxfam estimates that at least £5.2 billion a year is being evaded by wealthy individuals who use tax havens. That’s the equivalent of £200 a year for every single household in the UK. …

For the first time, more working households are living in poverty in the UK than non-working ones. In 2012 just over half of the 13 million people in poverty were from working families.

Austerity policies are massively increasing poverty and inequality in the UK – damage that could take two decades or more to reverse. Our research suggests 800,000 children and an extra 1.9 million adults in the UK could be pushed into poverty by 2020. The unprecedented rise of over 500,000 Britons needing emergency aid from food banks is just one example among many of what poverty looks like in the UK.

Read the full briefing here [pdf].