Two stories from today’s news reinforce the picture of gross inequalities and growing contrasts in the fortunes of global rich and local poor. Things can only get better?
More than 1.7 million people joined the ranks of the global super-rich last year. To qualify as ‘super-rich’ requires ‘investable assets’ of more than $1 million (£600,000) – not including your main home, art collection or vintage car(s).
In Britain the numbers in this elite ‘club’ went up by more than 10 percent just in the past 12 months, to 527,000. This equates to just under one percent of the total population. Unsurprisingly, the majority of Britons joining the club have done so as a result of rising property prices.
Just in case you think the UK is an exception, the total number of ‘High Net Worth Individuals’ is a record 13.7 million worldwide. Just four countries – the US, Germany, Japan – and China – are home to 60 percent of them, with Asia-Pacific the fastest growing region.
And their total net worth is forecast to grow by a further $11.7 trillion over the next 3 years…
Meanwhile, back in Blighty, the most detailed study ever of poverty in the UK has revealed that the number of British households falling below the minimum living standards has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
The Poverty and Social Exclusion project, led by Bristol University, has found amongst a wealth of other things, that:
- one third of households go without three or more ‘basic necessities of life’
- 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing
- 2.5 million children live in damp homes
- 1.5 million children live in households who can’t afford to heat them
- one in five adults have to borrow to pay for day to day needs.
- a majority of children experiencing multiple deprivation are in a family with someone in work.
And finally: But for the welfare state the UK would be THE most unequal advanced western economy in the world.
And just to cheer you up further, I was at a presentation this morning on ‘the economics of inequality’ at which Ruth Lupton of Manchester University showed the following slide – which reveals that, but for the welfare state, the UK would be the number one most unequal developed western economy.
Before taking into account the redistributive effects of taxation and benefits, the UK ranks more unequal than our 18 nearest competitor developed nations – more unequal even than the United States. Ruth’s full presentation is available here.
Just one more reason to speak up as loudly and clearly as we can in defence of taxation and the welfare state…