The UK’s six richest people control as much wealth as the poorest 13 million, according to research into the gaping inequality in British society.
Six billionaires at the top of the UK wealth league have a combined fortune of £39.4bn, which, according to analysis by the Equality Trust, is roughly equal to the assets of 13.2 million Britons.
The richest six are: the Indian brothers Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja, who control a conglomerate of businesses, including cars and banks, and top the table with a £12.8bn fortune; Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman and chief executive of the chemicals company Ineos, with £9.2bn; the hedge fund manager Michael Platt, who has an estimated £6.1bn; and the property developer brothers David and Simon Reuben, whose net worth is estimated at £5.7bn each. The estimates are based on wealth reports produced by Forbes magazine and Credit Suisse.
At the other end of the scale, the Equality Trust estimated that about 14m people in Britain live in poverty. Four million of these are said to be more than 50% below the poverty line and 1.5 million are destitute.
“This report should shock anyone who cares about the state of the UK today,” said Dr Wanda Wyporska, the executive director of the Equality Trust. “Such a huge gap between the very rich and the vast majority of the country is dangerous. Such extreme wealth in the hands of so few people demonstrates just how broken the economic system is.
“Behind the numbers, the UK’s extreme inequality is the story of Ferraris and food banks. Families across the country are working for their poverty and unable to promise their children a better, secure future. The rich live longer and their children get the best education, the best jobs and a leg up on the housing ladder. The UK’s economy delivers billions for a few and poverty for millions. Destitution is the sad reality for millions this Christmas.”
Tackling inequality has become a key battle ground in the general election campaign, with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, vowing that a Labour goverment would go after super-rich people who exploit a “rigged system” to benefit themselves at the expense of the many.
Corbyn named five other members of “the elite” he would target if he becomes prime minister: Mike Ashley, the founder and chief executive of Sports Direct; Crispin Odey, a hedge fund boss who made millions betting against the pound in the run-up to the EU referendum; Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Sun and the Times; Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, who controls a large central London property empire; and Ratcliffe.