LONDON: Britain’s 1,000 richest people have enjoyed a “phenomenal” increase of 15 percent in their wealth in the past year, according to The Sunday Times newspaper’s annual Rich List.
Together they are worth £518.975bn ($872.838bn), an increase of 15.4 percent on last year’s total of £449.654bn.
Even accounting for inflation, this is well above the £412.846bn recorded before the financial crisis began in 2008. “I’ve never seen such a phenomenal rise in personal wealth,” said Philip Beresford, who has compiled the list since 1989. He added: “While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy, and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country.”
The richest 1,000 people now own the equivalent of a third of Britain’s gross domestic product. The country now has 104 sterling billionaires. The Bank of England said this week that the British economy was heading “back towards normal” following the recession, and after six years of falling wages, average pay has finally caught up with inflation. However, the 1.7 percent annual growth in average weekly wages recorded by the Office for National Statistics is well below the growth enjoyed by the richest in society. The list is based on identifiable wealth including land, property and shares, but excludes bank accounts.
Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja, brothers of Indian origin, replaced Uzbek-born Russian business magnate Alisher Usmanov as the richest in Britain.
The London-based Hindujas, entrepreneurs who co-chair the multinational Hinduja Group conglomerate, are worth £11.9 billion.
The richest Briton is Gerald Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, who owns much of central London’s prime real estate. He was 10th on the list with £8.5bn.
Only 11 of the richest 30 are British. Others include Topshop owner Philip Green (£3.9bn), Sports Direct and Newcastle United Football Club tycoon Mike Ashley (£3.8bn), Virgin boss Richard Branson (£3.6bn), engineer James Dyson (£3bn) and motor racing boss Bernie Ecclestone (£3bn).
Queen Elizabeth II came 285th on the list, now with a personal wealth, as apart from that tied to the crown — of £330m. AFP