Official statistics mask the extent to which Britain is an increasingly impoverished society with some extraordinarily rich people in it
During the pandemic, the rich saw their ranks swell as stock markets soared – even as low-income workers returned to work and blue collar jobs were hollowed out. The upshot is that for the first time in three decades, extreme poverty and extreme wealth across the world have gone up at the same time. As the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum opens in Davos, Oxfam has shown that the gaps are yawning wider: the four richest Britons now have more wealth than 20 million compatriots.
This is underlined by the richest ever prime minister. Rishi Sunak is a multimillionaire, but the real money is inherited. His family’s £700m fortune rests on the 1% shareholding that Mr Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, holds in her father’s IT firm Infosys. This has almost tripled in value since March 2020 and entitled her, reportedly, to £6.4m in dividend payments last year. Mr Sunak says he has good intentions. But he and most voters live on different planets. His rise symbolises how political influence is being concentrated in the super-rich. Sensibly, he is skipping Davos, where the wealthy and powerful meet.