Following yesterday’s post on wealth inequality in the US –
– it is only right to draw attention to some UK statistics. Fortunately, Michael Meacher MP has just posted a useful guide:
According to the Sunday Times Rich List, published each year in April, the richest 1,000 Britons who constitute just 0.003% of the population have increased their wealth in the last year alone by £35bn, and by a stunning £190bn over the 4 years since the crash. Within the top 2% of the population HMRC records that there were 4,000 persons paid more than £1 million a year in 1999, but this became 10,000 by 2010 and then a huge rise to 18,000 by 2013.
By contrast the latest figures show that average wages in Britain have fallen after the crash in real terms (i.e. taking account of inflation) by 9% and are still falling. If current trends continue, and that is what Osborne intends, then by 2018 the average family will be £6,660 worse off than it was in mid 2007 just before the bankers brought the system down. Even more disturbing, the Resolution Foundation has estimated that the economic downturn in the UK has pushed another 1.4 million employees below the living wage (£8.45 an hour in London and £7.55 elsewhere in the country) widely regarded as necessary for a basic standard of living in Britain. Altogether the study ‘Low Pay Britain 2013′ found that no less than a fifth of all employees – 4.8 million Britons – now earn below this living wage. So far from falling since the height of the recession in 2009, this number paid below this minimum has actually grown by this year by over 40%.
As Michael Meacher says the US, which is the most unequal country in the Western world, is now becoming even more so… but a similar pattern is emerging in the UK. The richest 400 Americans have a collective fortune which is greater than the collective wealth of the bottom 50% of ordinary Americans; a collective fortune slightly bigger than the Russian economy and valued at £1.4 trillion. Note that is just 400 individuals!
The video clip ‘Wealth Inequality in America’ demonstrates the point… and where George Osborne intends the UK to head (NB warning of some dubious assertions about socialism):