The figures detailed in the Sunday Times Rich list published last weekend should be central to all the election debates.
They explode the myth that there’s “not enough money” for jobs and services. There’s plenty—it’s just in the wrong hands.
The total wealth of Britain’s 1,000 richest individuals and families has soared to £658 billion, a 14 percent rise on last year. It was an increase of £226 million a day.
The combined wealth of the top 500 is £580 billion, more than the £576 billion total wealth of the 1,000 richest people in 2016.
Theresa May is fighting the election in defence of the system that produces this obscene wealth at one end of society and people having to use food banks at the other.
This week Labour unveiled its very modest aim of increasing taxation for people who have incomes over £80,000 a year—the top 5 percent.
Income tax should be much higher for the rich (see below).
But wealth (the stock of money accumulated over decades or centuries) should also be taxed—and taken for the good of all.
The Equality Trust said, “The richest 1,000 people own more wealth than 40 percent of households, or 10.2 million families.”
In 2009, as the financial crisis kicked in, the richest 1,000 were worth £258 billion. Their wealth has more than doubled between then and now.
Nothing touches the super-rich. Robert Watts, the Rich List’s compiler, says, “While many of us worried about the outcome of the EU referendum, many of Britain’s richest people just kept calm and carried on making billions.”
There are 134 billionaires based in Britain, up 14 on last year.
Vacuum cleaner magnate Sir James Dyson is one of the year’s biggest risers. His fortune has increased by £2.8 billion in a year to £7.8 billion.
The increase alone is about what the government is seeking to slash from schools each year in England, leading to mass job losses and a worse education for millions of children.
Fifteen years ago, there were 21 UK-based billionaires in the Rich List.
Dominic Lawson, the son of former Tory chancellor Nigel Lawson wrote in 2009, “If there is a bloody Bolshevik revolution in this country, I think I can guess the inflammatory pamphlet which will be waved by the people putting the wealthy up against the walls and shooting them.
“It will not be the Communist Manifesto. It will be the Sunday Times Rich List.”
Let’s hope it will be both!
Rich fund the Tories
35 of the richest 100 in the list have collectively given £19 million to the Conservatives since 2001.
Labour is right to raise income tax
Very wealthy people have had more wealth stuffed into their pockets by income tax cuts—again and again.
In 1973, the top rate of income tax, paid by the very rich, was 75 percent. Labour’s right wing chancellor Denis Healey raised it to 83 percent in 1974.
For eight years of Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government the top rate was 60 percent. Today it is 45 percent.
Official figures released at the end of April show:
- The poorest 10 percent of households paid on average 42 percent of their income in taxes (income tax, council tax, VAT etc) in 2015/16.
- The richest 10 percent of households paid on average just 34.3 percent of their income in tax.
When the billionaires are paying less of their income in tax than their butlers, it’s definitely time for change.
Young man with old money lords it over us
The new Duke of Westminster—“Hughie” to his friends—is head of the Grosvenor family, whose land and property empire includes 300 acres of central London, 165,000 acres of British countryside and property across Europe, Asia and the Americas. It is part of a total wealth of £9.5 billion.
The 26 year old duke has achieved all this by being born and, in particular, being born a man.
The Grosvenor family grabbed Eaton Hall in Cheshire in the 1440s.
But the really big money came in 1677 when Sir Thomas Grosvenor married Mary Davies, a 12-year-old heiress whose plot of swamp and orchards to the west of London would one day become Mayfair and Belgravia.
Nine months ago, Hughie became the youngest duke of Westminster since the title was created more than 250 years ago, after the death of his father.
Lady Tamara is 11 years older than him, but didn’t become the duke because, well, she’s a woman.
His 21st birthday bash was a dinner and disco at Eaton Hall with hundreds of guests, including Prince Harry. The party was said to have cost £5 million.
What about tax? The Sunday Times comments, “The Grosvenors’ trust structure ensures the family, like most other aristocratic families, does not pay inheritance tax.”
Safes and houses
Housing crisis? Not for the super rich.
Brothers Ian and Richard Livingstone have plenty of places to put the homeless.
They own hotels in Monte Carlo, Barbados and Ibiza, as well as London’s Park Lane Hilton.
They also hold the hotel lease at the stately home Cliveden House in Berkshire.
Richard and Ian have a £6 billion venture in Panama City as well as 3.5 million square feet of property developments in the pipeline in London.
The wealth of the richest 1,000 is equivalent to the value of 3,018,853 houses at the cost of the average British house— £218,000.
Green with envy
There are losers in the list who facing hard times for their crimes.
Sir Philip Green, the Topshop tycoon and yacht owner who left BHS pensioners short and Mike Ashley, who tried to justify Sports Direct ’s vicious working practices, are jointly down more than £700 million.
Sir Philip and Lady Green are now having to make do with £2.8 billion, and Ashley a meagre £2.2 billion.
Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos, who took on and was allowed to beat the unions at the Grangemouth refinery, has seen his wealth rise by £2.5 billion to £5.75 billion.