The UK’s six wealthiest people have as much money and assets as the country's poorest 13 million people put together, a new analysis has found.
The report, from non-profit the Equality Trust, found that Britain's wealthiest six billionaires have a combined wealth of £39.4 billion – roughly equal to the combined assets of 13.2 million Britons.
The report is being held up as further evidence of the shocking inequality that exists in Britain today, with extreme differences between the richest and the poorest people in the country.
The organisation identified the six richest people in the UK as: Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja (£12.6bn), Indian brothers who control a conglomerate of businesses including banks; Sir Jim Ratcliffe (£9.2bn), the chairman and chief executive of the chemicals company Ineos; hedge fund manager Michael Platt (£6.1bn); and the property developer brothers David and Simon Reuben, whose net worth is estimated to be £5.7bn. The estimates are based on wealth reports produced by Forbes and Credit Suisse.
What's more, according to the Equality Trust's findings, the number of billionaires in the UK has almost doubled over the past 10 years; while the wealth of the UK's billionaires has more than doubled in the same period.
The report adds that the richest 1% of people in the UK also own the same wealth as 80% of the population — or 53 million people.
The Equality Trust says that an estimated 14 million people in Britain are living in poverty — with 4 million of those more than 50% below the poverty line, while some 1.5 million people are destitute and unable to afford basic essentials.
The UK's population is 66.4 million, so the poorest 13.2 million people represent about a fifth of the total population.
Dr. Wanda Wyporska, the executive director of the Equality Trust, said in a statement that the report should “shock anyone who cares about the state of the UK today”.
“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,” she added.
“Behind the numbers, the UK’s extreme inequality is the story of Ferraris and food banks," she continued. "Families across the country are working for their poverty and unable to promise their children a better, secure future."
Wyporska went on to highlight how this inequality is impacting people in Britain's access to the basic rights as outlined in the UN's Global Goals — 17 goals that work together to end extreme poverty globally by 2030.
"The rich live longer and their children get the best education, the best jobs, and a leg up on the housing ladder," she said. "The UK’s economy delivers billions for a few and poverty for millions. Destitution is the sad reality for millions this Christmas.”
The report comes ahead of the Dec. 12 general election, with inequality and poverty in Britain being one of the key issues at stake. But, as highlighted by Wyporska, "such dangerous inequality is not inevitable."
"Tackling inequality is not just the morally right thing to do, but it is also economic common sense, as the International Monetary Fund and so many others have shown," she said. "The UK government has committed to reducing inequaltiy as UN Sustainable Development Goal number 10, and it must be a priority of every policial party in this election."
Earlier this year, a UN envoy, Philip Alston, concluded that poverty in the UK was “systemic” and had a “tragic social consequences”, following a previous 12-day research trip around the country.