Socialist Worker

Britain’s rich elite are £48 billion better off while tens of thousands suffer poverty

New rich list showed Britain is a county of ‘Ferraris and food banks’, writes Sarah Bates

Issue No. 2654

The rich and the fat cat bosses are bleeding us dry

The rich and the fat cat bosses are bleeding us dry (Pic: Tim Sanders)


The wealth of Britain’s super-rich has soared to record-breaking heights—while tens of thousands of people have been plunged into poverty.

The Sunday Times Rich List published last Sunday showed that the richest 1,000 individuals are worth £771 billion—up £48 billion in a year.

The Equality Trust charity’s research said the 1,000 richest people had seen their wealth rise by £253 billion in the past five years.

This means they have more wealth than the poorest 40 percent of households.

There were some notable drops in income. Fashion boss Philip Green’s wealth was valued at a billion pounds less than last year.

The Sunday Times newspaper boasted, “This is capitalism at the sharp end—a dog-eat-dog world where no fortune is ­completely bulletproof.

“But here’s the ­paradox—despite the financial pain experienced by some of Britain’s wealthiest folk over the past 12 months this is still a record year for the rich list.”

Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of fossil fuel company Ineos, came third on the list despite ­shipping off stacks of his cash to tax haven Monaco this year.

The move could mean he avoids paying £4 billion of tax in Britain. The British arm of Ineos announced profits of £1.97 billion in 2018—with Ratcliffe’s personal stake in it worth £18 billion alone.

And he also owns a Swiss football club, two superyachts, and hotels.

Property was the primary investment for the 163 people on the list, but others are making a fortune by speculating on the stock market.

Tycoon

Oil tycoon and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich made an average of £1.6 million a day on his investment portfolio.

Some billionaires pay themselves astronomic incomes.

Denise Coates nets a salary of £220 million as founder of Bet365 gambling website. She’s putting the money to good use by building a glass mansion with its own artificial lake.

Others are making a tidy profit while forcing their workers to live in poverty.

Discount shop Home Bargains—which boasts of being Merseyside’s biggest employer—pays workers as little as £5.39 an hour.

But boss Tom Morris and his family saw their wealth increase by £100 million this year, bringing their total to £3.59 billion.

And names on the list also highlight how the rich use their financial resources in an attempt to stop policies that might curtail their wealth.

Billionaire theatre director Justin Gore has donated £2.6 million to the Tories since the start of 2017. He said he was getting involved in politics because “we see extreme demagogues ­reaching prominent positions”.

The Rich List is an annual reminder of the way capitalism enables a handful of billionaires to collect huge amounts of wealth at the majority’s expense.


Some 200,000 more children are in poverty

The number of children living in absolute poverty has increased by 200,000 in just one year, according to new government research.

It showed that 3.7 million children now live in absolute poverty.

Further research carried out for the Child Poverty Action Group to coincide with the publication of the figures said the freeze on children’s benefits means an average loss of £240 per year for families with children.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said,“The government needs to end the benefits freeze and stop the rollout of Universal Credit which is pushing people into poverty.”

The Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield has also published a report as part of her role advocating for children’s welfare.

It found that the triple impact of Universal Credit, a two child limit on some welfare payments and the benefits cap would plunge many more into poverty. Some 25 percent of children in the study would live in a household with a monthly deficit.

Claimants have to wait at least five weeks to get their first Universal Credit payment—and many are forced to apply for an advance payment.

But the pressure of having to pay these advance payments plunge 10 percent of low paid households into deficit.

It also discovered that Universal Credit made 40 percent of households worse off, losing an average of £181 a month.

Universal Credit must be stopped and scrapped immediately.


Pensioner killed herself after DWP cut off her money

Joy Worrall jumped to her death after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) left her with just £5 in her bank account, an inquest heard last week.

The DWP stopped her pension in 2017. This left Joy, from Flintshire, North Wales, with no income when she died in November 2018.

After receiving a £5,000 inheritance in 2014, Joy had her state pension stopped.

The DWP should have just paused Joy’s smaller pension credits instead.

Her son Ben said, “It’s a disgrace that this can happen in modern society and what concerns me is that this could happen to someone else.”


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