Call for wealth tax as number of UK billionaires rises 20% since pandemic | The super-rich

The number of British billionaires has risen by a fifth since the start of the Covid pandemic, according to a report calling for a progressive wealth tax to tackle rising inequality amid the cost of living crisis.

The charity Equality Trust says government and central bank interventions during the pandemic have enabled an “explosion of billionaire wealth” in Britain at the expense of the rest of society, after fueling a stock boom real estate and the stock market.

At the start of the global health emergency three years ago, the Bank of England and other major central banks around the world drove interest rates to zero and pumped billions of pounds into financial markets through to their quantitative easing bond buying programs. Aiming to soften the edges of the worst recession in three centuries by supporting businesses, households and governments with lower borrowing costs, the report found that the policies have also helped inflate asset prices, contributing to line the pockets of wealthy investors.

The Equality Trust said it helped boost the number of UK billionaires from 147 in 2020 to 177 this year, with the median billionaire now holding around £2billion.

“This sudden explosion of extreme wealth was largely due to measures aimed at mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, as central banks injected billions of dollars into financial markets, leading to a stock market boom. which effectively lined the pockets of shareholders,” said Jo Wittams, co-executive director of Equality Trust, in a report released on Monday.

“While Covid-19 has seen the wealth of billionaires rise to levels never seen before, the building of the economic infrastructure that has enabled this mass accumulation dates back to the past four decades.”

The report found the number of billionaires in the UK had increased more than tenfold, from 15 in 1990 when the Sunday Times first published its rich list, after taking into account inflation during that period.

Using inflation-adjusted wealth data from archives of the Rich List, he said the combined wealth of British billionaires had risen from £53.9billion in 1990 to over £653billion. pounds sterling in 2022. “This represents an increase in billionaire wealth of more than 1,000% over the past 32 years,” the report states.

“The fact that we have allowed the wealthiest few to accumulate such a staggering amount of the nation’s wealth since 1990 is a national disgrace,” Wittams said. “The UK’s record on wealth inequality is appalling, grossly unfair and poses a real threat to our economy and society.

“Each year we are invited to celebrate the wealthiest individuals and families in the UK, as food bank use continues to rise, 3.9 million children live in poverty and 6.7 million households struggle to heat their homes. That these are two sides of the same coin is very rarely mentioned.

Wittams said inequality should not be inevitable. “Good policies can have a positive impact,” she said. “We call on the government to tax wealth on income, reform the financial sector and end the UK’s role in tax avoidance. Two-thirds of the British public agree that ordinary working people are not getting their fair share of the national wealth and it’s time the government acted.

Tax equality campaigners say the government could raise up to £37billion to help pay for public services if it introduces a series of wealth taxes.

Tax Justice UK has called on the government to introduce five tax reforms targeting the very wealthy, which the campaign group said had been “very successful financially” during the coronavirus crisis and nationwide lockdowns, rather than looking to save money money with further cuts in public services.

“Taxation is a matter of political choices. At a time when most people are being hit hard by the cost of living crisis, it would be wrong to cut public services further,” said Tom Peters, advocacy manager at Tax Justice UK. “The rich have done very well financially in recent years. The Chancellor should protect public spending by taxing wealth properly.

The campaign group, which calls for a “fairer tax system that actively redistributes wealth to tackle inequality”, proposes five wealth tax reforms.

Measures include equalizing capital gains tax with income tax, abolishing the non-dom regime and introducing a 1% tax on the assets of super-rich people over of £10million – which they believe could reach £10billion on its own.

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