Richest 1% now wealthier than 70% of entire UK population

Oxfam is calling for a wealth tax of up to 5 per cent on the super-rich to raise £1.4 trillion each year

Oxfam is calling for a tax of up to 5 per cent on British ultra-wealthy. Reuters
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The world's richest one per cent have captured two-thirds of new global wealth since 2020, a new report by Oxfam has said.

It said economic crises including a surge in food and energy prices had led to "dramatic gains for many at the top".

The report called Survival of the Richest said extreme poverty and vast wealth had increased simultaneously for the first time in a quarter of a century.

According to Oxfam's analysis, the richest group gained £21 trillion in new wealth over the past two years, which equates to almost two thirds of all new revenue. The number and wealth of billionaires doubled over the past decade.

In the UK, the analysis found, the richest 1 per cent of people are now wealthier than 70 per cent of the population combined.

The richest 685,500 people in Britain are worth a total of £2.8 trillion ($3.4 trillion), compared with 48 million people in the UK whose combined wealth totals £2.4 trillion.

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At the same time, at least 1.7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages, and more than 820 million people — about one in 10 people on Earth — do not have enough food.

Oxfam is calling for a wealth tax of up to 5 per cent on the super-rich to raise £1.4 trillion each year, which the charity says is enough to lift two billion people out of poverty.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam's chief executive for Britain, criticised governments for failing to tackle financial inequality, describing the current economic situation as “an affront to basic human values”.

“Multiple crises have pushed millions to the brink while our leaders fail to grasp the nettle," Mr Sriskandarajah said.

"Governments must stop acting for the vested interests of the few.

“How can we accept a system where the poorest people in many countries pay much higher tax rates than the super-rich?

“A flour seller Oxfam works with in Uganda pays 40 per cent tax each month, while some billionaires’ true tax rates have been as low as 3 per cent.

“Governments must introduce higher taxes on the super-rich now.”

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Along with Patriotic Millionaires and Tax Justice UK, Oxfam is pushing for one-off “solidarity wealth taxes”, and a permanent increase on tax for the richest 1 per cent to at least 60 per cent of their income from labour and capital, with higher rates for billionaires.

Their campaign is supported by Ian Gregg, former managing director of Greggs and the son of its founder, who believes he should be paying more tax.

“I can never be happy with an economy that fosters such division in society for our children and grandchildren," Mr Gregg said.

“Now, more than ever, the wealthiest must contribute more.

“For me, paying more tax would be a small price to pay to start the process of making society fairer, and reducing inequalities in both wealth and opportunity.”

Oxfam also found that 95 food and energy corporations more than doubled their profits in 2022, making £251 billion in profits and paying 84 per cent of this sum to rich shareholders.

The charity said that excess corporate profits had driven at least half of inflation rates in Australia, the US and the UK.

Some progressive governments have taken steps to increase taxation, including Costa Rica, which increased its top rate of income tax from 15 per cent to 25 per cent.

Bolivia and Argentina have also introduced wealth taxes.

Updated: January 16, 2023, 10:33 AM