Research by the charity Oxfam found the wealthiest households have more money than 12.6 million of the least well-off put together.
The wealthiest family in Britain is the Grovesnors, headed by the Duke of Westminster, with a fortune of £7.9bn mostly from the 190 acres of real estate it owns in London’s Belgravia, according to the Forbes rich list.
Also on the list are brothers David and Simon Reuben, whose £6.9bn fortunes comes from metals and property, and the Hinduja brothers with trucking and banking businesses worth £6bn.
The Cadogan family, who are worth £4bn from owning property and land in Chelsea and Knightsbridge in London and Cadogan Estates, and Newcastle United FC owner and Sports Direct clothing chain boss Mike Ashley, whose fortune is valued at £3.3bn, complete the top five.
In its Tale Of Two Britains report, Oxfam found the gap between rich and poor has grown significantly over the last two decades. It said the richest 0.1% of the population have seen incomes grow nearly four times faster than the poorest 90% of the country. The wealthy elite have an extra £24,000 in their pockets every year – enough to buy a small yacht or a sports car and almost as much as the average UK salary of £26,500.
Ben Phillips, director of campaigns and policy at Oxfam, said, “Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, whilst millions of families are struggling to make ends meet. It’s deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive on the breadline.”
Ahead of this week’s Budget, Oxfam has called on the Chancellor to raise revenues from those most able to afford it.
It wants to see a renewed clamp down on tax dodgers, as well as a long-term strategy to raise the minimum wage – which will rise from £6.31 to £6.50 in October – to a so-called ‘living wage’. Mr Phillips said, “Increasing inequality is a sign of economic failure rather than success. It’s time for our leaders to stand up and be counted on this issue.”
Oxfam said it feared the growing gulf could become even wider with £12billion more welfare cuts to come and many families already resorting to food banks just to eat. The Equality Trust think tank also warned the cost of dealing with health issues and crime linked to poverty was £39billion – or £622 per person – each year.
Five Richest Families:
1 Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor & family £8billion Duke of Westminster is UK’s richest landlord. Owns 190 acres in Belgravia.
2 David & Simon Reuben £7billion Self-made Monaco-based billionaire brothers Simon and David, with money in property.
3 Hinduja Brothers £6billion London-
4 Charles Cadogan & family £4billion Former Chelsea FC chairman, owns Cadogan Estates and most of Chelsea in West London.
5 Michael Ashley £3.3billion Sports Direct chief, Newcastle United owner.