Sunday, 25 April 2010

Wealth of UK's super-rich soars by £77 billion in one year

The wealth of Britain's richest 1000 people has grown by almost a third in just one year. Their collective wealth of £335.5 billion represents a massive increase - £77 billion - on a year ago.

The Sunday Times, publishing its annual Rich List today, acknowledges this is 'easily the largest annual increase in the 22 years that the survey has been carried out'. These riches contrast starkly with the experiences of the vast majority of people in today's recession-hit Britain.

In the current election campaign the mainstream politcal parties all agree the majority must pay - through cuts and austerity measures - for a crisis generated by a tiny minority. The Rich List exposes how the wealth of that tiny elite continues to spiral.

This is against the backdrop of astronomical growth, throughout 13 years of New Labour government, in the combined wealth of the super-rich. In 1997 the 1000 richest people had £98.99 billion. The current total is more than three times that figure.

The list includes the estimated wealth of the richest individuals. The top 20 includes a number of people from the banking and financial sectors.

Charlene and Michel de Carvalho ('inheritance, brewing, banking') have £4.4 billion. Kirsten and Jorn Rausing ('investment and banking') are a little behind, on £3.5 billion. Joe Lewis ('foreign exchange and investment') has £2.7 billion.

Elsewhere in the Top 20 are examples of staggering increases in the space of just a year. Steel magnate Lakhsmi Mittal tops the list, with a 108% increase taking the Mittal family to £22.45 billion.

There must be money in steel: Alisher Usmanov has £4.7 billion, up 213% on last year.

David and Simon Reuben ('property and internet') have seen a 121% increase take them to over £5.5 billion. Retail kings Galen and George Weston enjoy £4.5 billion, thanks to a massive 400% rise.

But even that increase is trumped by the 480% rise for Vladimir Kim and the 583% increasee for Anil Agawarl. Both of them make their money from mining.

The growth in the top 1000's riches is not an accident. It is linked to the present government's policies serving to the wealthy over more than a decade: deregulation, tax loopholes and uncollected taxes, generous incentives.

When politicans say we can't afford proper funding for public services, remember the Rich List. Remember, too, that New Labour (with support from the opposition parties) has allowed this to happen.

This is also published at Counterfire.

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